Canvas set for go-ahead

By Julian Clover
December 21, 2009 09.54 UK

The BBC is widely expected to this week receive approval from the BBC Trust for its involvement in Project Canvas. There are now six partners in the project designed to bring internet-based services to the television screen.

Since its inception Canvas has been the subject of fierce criticism from across the industry, concerned about the BBC’s role, and what the project actually entailed. BSkyB said the venture potentially broke European rules on state aid.

Subsequently, original partners the BBC, ITV and BT brought in additional partners, adding Channel 4, Five and most recently the Carphone Warehouse ISP TalkTalk. The Digital TV Group (DTG) was also brought in to develop the technical standards and the partners underlined the purpose of the project to ensure that free-to-air households did not miss out on the technical advances available to premium subscribers.

Canvas capable devices, which are expected to include both HD and PVR capability, are likely to cost between £100 and £200. Viewers would need to be connected to the internet through their own ISP and pay any broadband access charges.

The devices may be available as soon as 2010, but amid work by the EBU to harmonised a Hybrid Broadcast Broadband standard, the UK risks a potential technical isolation.