Sky slams BBC over Project Canvas

Chris Forrester

Project Canvas is the BBC’s plan to supply programming over broadband to users. Early this year the BBC Trust, the BBC’s governing body, initiated a market assessment study to test whether the scheme represents suitable use of the BBC’s licence fee. BSkyB is objecting to how the BBC Trust is handling the market study.

Sky’s criticism argues that the Trust’s market study “will only serve to undermine further industry confidence in its ability and inclination to act as a genuinely independent regulator of the BBC,” Sky said.

The ‘Canvas’ project envisages a high-quality hybrid set-top box able to receive Freeview or Freesat signals, as well as being connected to a broadband internet link. Channel 4, the UK’s other public broadcaster, as well as commercial network ITV, also back the scheme.

Sky is not the only one grumbling, and as a result of the overall complaints the BBC Trust allowed a further 5 weeks to respond to its guidelines, setting Sept 1 for informed responses.

This too has upset Sky. Graham McWilliam, Sky’s group director of corporate affairs, said that responding to the 75-page BBC document within just five weeks was “unrealistic”. That timeframe, said McWilliam, and the Trust’s failure to include Ofcom, which regulates commercial broadcasting in the UK (but not the BBC) into the process, “demonstrates disregard for the principles of good regulation”.