Canvas defence begins as Arqiva signs on

The day after the UK Office of Fair Trading announced a consultation process that may lead to a referral of the project to the Competition Commission – a move that would delay the Canvas launch by up to a year even if it got a clean bill of health – members of the consortium have been emphasising its openness.

Richard Young, Business Development Director of BT Vision, a Canvas Partner, told the IPTV World Forum that the common system would only help drive competition between ISPs; “we'll be competing to ensure the quality of our Canvas service is the best.” He said BT would still offer the Vision service and the Canvas service would be complimentary, “there is a role for us in aggregating the best free and pay content into a range of services.”

In the same session Canvas BBC Project Director Richard Halton stressed they were in discussion with the European Hbbtv Internet on TV consortium and looked forward to cooperation. He also revealed the members of the consortium had already made a submission to OFT stating their belief the joint venture doesn't constitute a qualifying merger under the terms of the Enterprise Act. The BBC Trust has already announced it will now delay the results of its latest review of Canvas until after the OFT decision.

Meantime, Arqiva the infrastructure specialist and owner of SeeSaw, ironically the descendent of Kangaroo, last BBC led internet to TV project that was killed off by the regulator, has joined Canvas as an equal partner, bringing the consortium to seven. “Arqiva has a long history in supporting free-to-air broadcasting as a shareholder in Freeview, it is a natural step for us to take a partner role in Canvas,” said Rob Hamlin, strategic development director. “The approach of Canvas as an open platform based on common technical standards is one we fully support and are looking to encourage through standards bodies, particularly via the UK’s Digital Television Group.”

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