Trust gives Canvas green light

Project Canvas, the proposed UK video-on-demand platform that would see content delivered over the internet to Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes and connected TV sets, received a boost last week when the BBC’s governing body the BBC Trust gave the service a provisional green light.

The Trust decided that the service would deliver a range of positive impacts, including encouraging growth of on-demand TV and increasing opportunities for internet service providers to develop triple-play services. However, it added a note of caution that the platform could slow pay-TV growth and contribute to a reduced DVD rental market. The Trust added that there was no reason why companies, including pay-TV operator BSkyB, should not charge for services on the platform.

A range of conditions were imposed on the BBC by the Trust, including that core technical specification must be published well in advance to allow manufacturers to adapt to the Canvas standard; other content providers must have access to the platform; quality standards for ISPs must be applied on a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory basis; a Trust review 12 months after its launch will assess the effects Canvas has on the partners’ incentives to syndicate their content to other platforms; the platform must remain accessible without a subscription; the BBC must return for further approval if costs exceed those projected by more than 20% in any one year and the BBC must report on whether the proposed accessibility features, such as audio description, have been incorporated.

The Trust reached its provisional conclusion after receiving more than 800 written responses.  It will have a further period of consultation lasting until February.