Channel 4, TalkTalk join Project Canvas

Wednesday, December 16 2009, 11:44 GMT

By Andrew Laughlin,

Channel 4 and TalkTalk have joined IPTV venture Project Canvas, with more new partners expected to follow in the near future.

The two organisations join existing partners the BBC, BT, ITV and Five in the project, which aims to create a new technical standard for IP-enabled TV devices.

All six partners will now invite other interested parties to join the venture, as long as they are broadly supporting of its aims and can "commit financial and marketing support".

As Canvas will cost around 115m in its first four years of operation, a bigger group of partners will reduce the individual cost burden for each organisation involved.

"Internet connectivity is going to have a transformational effect on TV. By seamlessly converging broadband and broadcast content, Project Canvas can help secure the future of free-to-air broadcasting and create an open platform that gives online services a route to the TV set," said Canvas programme director Richard Halton.

"The potential for innovation goes far beyond bringing video on-demand to the TV set and there's a huge opportunity for a wide range of new commercial models to thrive. We always wanted all the UK's public service broadcasters and at least two ISPs to be involved in the venture at launch, so we're delighted that Channel 4 and TalkTalk have joined the project.

"Today we're inviting any further expressions of interest from other companies to join the venture. We hope that any other businesses that share a similar vision for internet-connected TV will want to be a part of this story."

Canvas aims to deliver an upgrade to the Freeview and Freesat platforms by creating a new receiver and user interface capable of delivering video on-demand and internet-based services.

However, the BBC's involvement in the project is still being reviewed by the BBC Trust and Sky has been highly critical of its motives, particularly in terms of a perceived bias towards public service broadcasters in its partners.

Should the Trust extend its approval, the Canvas partners would start working with the Digital TV Group to create technical standards for the platform before a consumer brand is created to wrap around that.