Project Canvas can still work

Written by Chris Forrester

‘Project Canvas’ is the BBC’s proposed VOD system, that seeks to be the main UK delivery platform for on-demand content. The scheme, backed by British Telecom and ITV, as well as the BBC, has just been forced to reassess itself by the BBC Trust, which many observers saw as being a kick into the very long grass for the project. ‘Not so’ implies the Beeb, which says that the new service could be available next year.

One of the first hurdles is the technical standard which Canvas was looking to adopt. It was planned to have a proprietary transmission standard, open to all comers but only on the basis that they conformed – and perhaps paid for their place on the system.

One report suggests that Project Canvas has had discussions with BSkyB and Virgin Media about supplying their paid-for programming. Special set-top boxes would be needed to facilitate viewing of Canvas programming, whereas today’s BBC iPlayer content can be viewed on any laptop or PC.

However, there remain many objectors to the Canvas scheme including BSkyB, which has stated that it would give the BBC a dominant position and distort competition in the UK.