IPTV platform wins support from UK broadcasters

UK broadcaster Channel 4 and internet service provider Talk Talk are the latest companies to join Project Canvas, a joint venture dedicated to developing and running an IPTV platform.

Channel 4 and Talk Talk, the Carphone Warehouse-owned ISP, join founding members of the venture, the BBC, ITV, Five, and BT, giving the project a full complement of UK broadcasters.

The aim now is to develop a technical specification for IPTV-enabled devices in partnership with standards body the Digital Television Group (DTG), then to build the technology platform and create and market a relevant consumer brand.

According to the initiative’s backers, the platform created by Project Canvas would bring together linear TV and internet-based applications – creating an upgrade for the UK’s existing free-to-air TV platforms Freeview and Freesat, and giving TV audiences open access to a wide range of internet-based services.

What this means is consumers would be able to access a number of on demand media services over the internet, such as films and music, as well as popular web services such as YouTube, Twitter, and Google Mail, all through the TV.

The first Canvas-certified equipment, probably set top boxes, is to go on sale before Christmas 2010, because of the start of high definition terrestrial Freeview broadcasts. If consumers buy a new set top box to allow them to receive the HD Freeview content before Canvas boxes are on the market it is thought they will be less receptive to buying another new set top box -a Canvas-enabled one so soon after.

“Internet-connectivity is going to have a transformational effect on TV. By seamlessly converging broadband and broadcast content, project canvas can help secure the future of free-to-air broadcasting and create an open platform that gives online services a route to the TV set,” said Project canvas programme director Richard Halton.

“The potential for innovation goes far beyond bringing video-on-demand to the TV set and there’s a huge opportunity for a wide range of new commercial models to thrive. We always wanted all the UK’s public service broadcasters and at least two ISPs to be involved in the venture at launch, so we’re delighted that Channel 4 and Talk Talk have joined the project.”

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