TalkTalk: 'Canvas is open'

Charles Dunstone, the chairman of Project Canvas partner TalkTalk, has admitted that there had been arguments over the strategic direction of Project Canvas among the seven partners in the joint venture, but the eventual goal is clear. Project Canvas was cleared of breaching competition regulation last week.

BSkyB argues that Project Canvas, particularly because of the leading participation of the publicly funded BBC, amounts to giving its rivals an unfair leg up in the UK VoD market. Virgin Media claims Canvas, which will bring VoD content to TV viewers with Freeview and Freesat receivers, is an unfair closed platform.

Dunstone told The Guardian “I do find it hard to accept their criticism. Canvas is a completely open platform, anyone can join it. What is happening is the unbundling of TV – historically, content was attached to the company in control of the delivery mechanism. Now people can access the same content via different channels. Canvas is empowering all kinds of people to bring services to the market.”

Dunstone doesn't accept accusations that TV rivals and hardware companies, such as set-top-box manufacturers, would be unfairly forced to adopt a Project Canvas user interface, to be a partner. “There needs to be a certain discipline about the platform and what you use,” he said. “It is being done in the most democratic way possible – it will work with any Internet service provider, for example. It has to be easy and simple enough for customers to use.”

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