Project Canvas, the IPTV joint venture between the BBC, ITV, BT, Five, Channel 4, Talk Talk and Arqiva, has received approval from the BBC Trust for the BBC's involvement in the collaborative effort. Don't worry if you feel like you're experiencing a sense of déjà vu - the BBC Trust already approved Project Canvas preliminarily last December, but needed another six months to make its mind up.
This announcement marks the end of regulatory processes which may have halted Project Canvas entirely. Given the Trust's treatment of the ill-fated Project Kangaroo, such cynicism wasn't entirely unwarranted.
Inevitably the Trust has attached a number of strings to the BBC's involvement, but these aren't exactly draconian. The pertinent details mandate that Project Canvas must remain free-to-access (although content providers may charge for material made available via the service) and that there should be as low a technical barrier to entry as possible. Other requirements, such as non-discriminatory EPC placement, and the obligation for the technical specification for Project Canvas to be available at least eight months before launch are simple common sense measures one would hope be taken anyway.
According to the Project Director Richard Halton: "Project Canvas will safeguard the future of the UK’s free-to-air TV platforms and allow new business models to thrive through an open, internet-connected, TV platform. This brings the benefits of next-generation TV to all consumers, including those who choose not to subscribe to pay-TV." A vision we can certainly get behind.
Thanks to the BBC Trust seeing sense and finally leaving the BBC and its co-conspirators to get on with the important business of getting Project Canvas launched.