BSkyB reopens Project Canvas attack

Recent peace with BSkyB hinting it might use Canvas has ended with the pay broadcaster has accusing the BBC of paying no more than “lip service” to allowing other broadcasters to join Project Canvas, and again called for the initiative to be blocked.

These comments are in a new submission to the BBC Trust. This comes after BBC management submitted additional information on Project Canvas’s proposed governance structure and costs to the trust.

BBC management said that non-public service broadcasters could become partners, but that the costs for each partner are likely to be in excess of £20m (E23m) in Project Canvas’s first four years.

Sky argues that the BBC Trust should still not allow the project to go ahead. “Given its unique and privileged position in receipt of substantial and guaranteed public funding, the current proposals remain inconsistent with the BBC’s obligations to adopt the least intrusive and most proportionate means of fulfilling its core public service purpose. Sky does not believe that Canvas should be allowed to proceed, or at least, not with the BBC, and the licence fee, playing an active role.

The proposals for membership of the joint venture remain exclusionary. The new proposals pay lip service to the idea of an open joint venture and the governance changes will make little difference in practice to the current Canvas members’ ability to pick and choose their partners in the future.”

BBC management attempted to preserve the original idea that Project Canvas will primarily benefit public service broadcasters by adding clauses to protect the core purpose in the articles of association that all partners must agree to.

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