Project Canvas approved by BBC Trust

  • Published

The BBC has been given the go-ahead for a project which could kick-start demand for internet TV.

Project Canvas is a partnership between the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4 and TalkTalk to develop a so-called Internet Protocol Television standard.

The BBC Trust - the corporation's governing body - made its decision after extensive consultation.

The trust's Diane Coyle said the partnership "will deliver significant public value for licence fee payers".

The trust will review the BBC's involvement against the conditions of its approval, 12 months after Canvas launches to consumers.

The service will see a range of set-top boxes available to access on-demand TV services such as iPlayer and ITVplayer.

Project director Richard Halton said he was "delighted" by the trust's decision.

"This brings the benefits of next-generation TV to all consumers, including those who choose not to subscribe to pay-TV," he said.

"We look forward to rising to that challenge."


The trust gave the BBC a provisional go-ahead to become involved in the project last December.

It was decided that Canvas would have a series of positive impacts, including furthering the growth of on-demand TV.

"People with a broadband connection will be able to access a wide range of on-demand content including BBC iPlayer, free of charge, through their TV sets," said Ms Coyle.

"We have however applied a number of conditions to the BBC's involvement in the venture in recognition of the potential impacts on the market if Canvas is successful."

The trust has imposed several conditions on the BBC, including:

  • Viewers must be able to watch BBC programmes without a subscription.
  • The BBC must report on whether accessibility features, such as audio description, have been incorporated in the system.
  • The Trust will review the signposting of content and parental controls at a later date.
  • Technical specifications must be published within 20 working days of the Trust's approval, to allow broadcasters and set-top box manufacturers to adapt to the Canvas standard.
  • The final core specifications must be published no later than eight months before set-top boxes are launched.
  • Other broadcasters and content providers must have access to the platform.
  • A Trust review, 12 months after its launch, will assess the effects Canvas has on the partner's incentives to syndicate their content to other platforms.
  • The BBC will need further approval if costs exceed those projected by more than 20% in any one year.