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15/01/2010

BBC's Internet Project Canvas Seeks Partners

Following news last month that the BBC will be allowed to press ahead with its plan for a controversial new internet-video service on TV, further 'expressions of interest' are now being sough.
The innovative Project Canvas is an attempt to create an on-demand service for television sets via an Internet-connected set-top box, by a partership of terrestrial broadcasters BBC, Channel 4, ITV plc, Five and communications companies BT and TalkTalk.
Project Canvas was initially announced on 11 December 2008 as a partnership between the BBC, BT and ITV and in July 2009, it announced that Five had signed up to the project.
In mid December, Project Canvas announced that Channel 4 and TalkTalk had also signed up to the project.
It has now emerged that the six partners are inviting further 'expressions of interest' from companies wanting a part of the joint venture.
The partners have proposed that all prospective venture partners should be granted an equal proportion of shares in the new joint venture company.
They intend to form a venture to promote the platform to consumers and the content, service and developer community.
A consumer brand (not Canvas) will be created, and licensed to device manufacturers, and internet service providers owners who meet the specifications. 'Canvas compliant' devices (set-top boxes), built to a common technical standard, would provide seamless access to a range of third-party services through a common, simple, user experience.
Project Canvas, a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT and Carphone Warehouse, had initially been under review by the BBC Trust since last February.
The project will offer on-demand video over a broadband connection. It has been roundly attacked by BSkyB, the pay-TV operator.
Set-top boxes using Canvas technology, costing about £200, are expected to be available by the end of this year.
Canvas will offer content from the BBC iPlayer, NHS Direct and a variety of other websites including LoveFilm and, possibly, Hulu, an American on-demand video service.
Any organisation will be able to design applications offering content. Viewers will be able to shop in an 'app store', similar to Apple's.
It is understood that the BBC Trust will look closely at the cost of Canvas's marketing budget, which has been set at £48 million. The total cost will be £115.6 million in its first four years.
(BMcC/GK)
VMI.TV Ltd

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