Category Archives: Project Canvass

U.K. Antitrust Body Won’t Investigate Project Canvas

The U.K. Office of Fair Trading won’t investigate Project Canvas, the joint venture to bring Internet content and new video-on-demand services to television. The OFT has decided that it doesn’t have jurisdiction to review Project Canvas under the merger provisions of the Enterprise Act 2002 as none of the partners, including the British Broadcasting Corp., contributes an existing business to the venture.

The BBC started the project, contributing only existing research and development rather than a separate business unit. The contributions of the other joint venture partners will be primarily financial. Project Canvas is a joint venture between the BBC, ITV PLC, BT Group PLC, RTL Group SA’s Five, Channel 4, TalkTalk Telecom Group PLC and Arqiva Ltd. The partners plan to launch the project around Christmas.

Under the Enterprise Act 2002, a relevant merger situation is created if two or more enterprises cease to be distinct and if the value of U.K. revenue of the business being taken over exceeds £70 million. It also applies if a 25% share of supply in the U.K. is created as a result of a transaction. The project, which will allow U.K. viewers to watch free-to-air broadcasts and Internet content on television, will help traditional broadcasters attract new audiences while retaining existing viewers who have turned to the Internet for entertainment.

Project Canvas partners welcomed the OFT decision, noting the joint venture wouldn’t own, control or aggregate any content. “Project Canvas aims to create an open platform that delivers a connected future for free-to-air TV and a competitive market for internet-connected TV services in the U.K. The Project Canvas partners are committed to achieving that aim,” Project Canvas director Richard Halton said in a statement.

In December last year, the BBC’s controlling trust provisionally approved the corporation’s involvement in Project Canvas, saying that “the likely public value of the proposal justifies any potential negative market impact.” Watching TV programs online has increased in popularity, aided by the BBC’s on-demand Internet-TV service, iPlayer. Commercial broadcasters are exploring ways to distribute their programs to boost advertising. Project Canvas has faced criticism from pay-TV companies, particularly British Sky Broadcasting PLC, which cites a lack of independent scrutiny for the project. News Corp., the owner of Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones & Co., holds about a 39% stake in BSkyB.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703691804575254360827852610.html?mod=WSJ_business_whatsNews

Project Canvas kicks off advertising pitch

Project Canvas, the proposed on-demand web TV venture, is looking for an agency to handle its UK advertising account.  The service, which is backed by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT and TalkTalk, is planning to approach agencies with a view to holding a pitch for the business.

The successful agency will be responsible for handling all of Project Canvas’ ad campaigns, with the venture due to spend almost £50 million on marketing and brand development in its first four years. Project Canvas is due to launch its set-top boxes later this year, which will allow consumers to access each of the participating broadcasters’ video-on-demand offerings, as well as giving people access to internet content on their TV screens. Research conducted last year predicts that, by 2014, Project Canvas could reach up to 3.5 million homes.

However, the venture still faces problems, such as keeping set-top box costs down and finding a way around bandwidth bottlenecks.
News of the advertising pitch comes a month after the BBC Trust, the governing body of the BBC, gave its provisional approval to the organisation’s involvement in the project

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/980147/Project-Canvas-kicks-off-advertising-pitch/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin

BBC gives go-ahead for free online TV service

The BBC Trust has given the provisional go-ahead to Project Canvas, a video-on-demand joint venture that offers free-to-air broadcasts and internet content on -television.

The governing body of the BBC said it was setting conditions after reviewing more than 800 consultation responses from industry and individual stakeholders. The likely public value of the proposal, it said, justified any potential damaging effect on the market.

The venture between the BBC, ITV, BT Group, Five, Channel 4 and Carphone Warehouse, will see set-top boxes made available to access on-demand television services such as the BBC’s iPlayer and ITVPlayer.

The set-top boxes are expected to cost about £200 and could be on sale next year. Users will have access to websites such as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr via their televisions. Electronic mail could be used if keyboards were added.

Ian Maude, head of internet at Enders Analysis, said Canvas would have little effect on the television market until boxes with its software cost less than £50.

“Initial take-up will depend on how much BT, Carphone Warehouse and other service providers are willing to subsidise Canvas set-top boxes,” he said.

Trust approval did not mean Canvas would necessarily escape further scrutiny from the Office of Fair Trading, Mr Maude said.

The project, designed to strengthen free-to-air broadcasters, has come under fire from pay TV groups such as BSkyB, which says the BBC’s involvement raises potential state aid issues.

Graham McWilliam, director of corporate affairs for BSkyB, said: “There is no need for public money to be spent on replicating what’s set to be delivered through commercial investment.

“Consumers will not benefit if the BBC’s role in Canvas prevents other innovative services

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bcd794a8-ef68-11de-86c4-00144feab49a.html

In the Kingdom of the Blind only Murdoch knows best

Not withstanding that the UK’s own Wapping-based King Canute is set to try and strong arm the world’s news content publishing industry into forcing the public to pay for access to its online content, now these same charlatans of ‘open standards’ and ‘capitalist competition’ and ‘innovation for all’ are arguing for access to the BBC Canvass project. When new digital set-top boxes that lay at the heart of this project hit the shelves, viewers will watch internet-based services such as the iPlayer via their TV as part of an attempt to play catch-up with money grasping pay-TV rivals such as Sky. If the government caves in watch the prices for these boxes rocket skyward as the ‘paid for content’ project – a way of denying the online world up-to-date or even accurate news – takes another nasty step forward.

Canvas, a joint venture between the BBC, ITV, BT and Five, is set to materialise in time for Christmas 2010 when new digital set-top boxes — expected to be priced between £100 and £200 — are expected to hit shelves.

The boxes will allow viewers to watch internet-based services such as the iPlayer via their TV as part of an attempt to play catch-up with pay-TV rivals such as Sky.

Sky is not complaining about the BBC’s plans to use the internet to deliver programming to TV sets via a set-top box, instead the satellite broadcaster is concerned the corporation will “stifle innovation” in the market.

The company believes the BBC licence-fee funded attempt to establish its own platform rather than contributing to an industry-standard system for delivering online content to TV sets will impede new developments in the market.

Stephen Nuttall, Sky’s commercial director, said: “They shouldn’t go off and do their own thing and use their unique funding to drive a coach and horses through the market development.”

Sky wants the Trust to force the BBC to allow anybody — not just public service broadcasters — to join Canvas. The company’s SkyPlayer could potentially be incorporated into Project Canvas.

Sky’s submission to the BBC Trust will be published today, while the BBC has not yet revealed how much it is investing in Project Canvas.

http://www.brandrepublic.com/BrandRepublicNews/News/944726/Sky-attacks-BBCs-use-licence-fee-fund-Project-Canvas/?DCMP=EMC-DailyNewsBulletin