Advanced Television

Sky on Canvas warpath

August 18, 2009

BskyB has written to the BBC Trust expressing "serious concerns" about its handling of Project Canvas. The Trust's conduct of a consultation process on Canvas "will only serve to undermine further industry confidence in its ability and inclination to act as a genuinely independent regulator of the BBC", Sky said.

Since February, the Trust has been conducting a market impact assessment and public value test to see whether Canvas – for which the BBC is partnering with ITV, BT and Five – is a suitable use of the licence fee. Canvas wants to establish a standard for bringing on-demand video from the PC to the television.

Three months ago, Sky and others criticised the Canvas partners for providing insufficient information upon which to judge its impact. At the Trust's request, the BBC published a more detailed set of Canvas proposals at the end of July. The Trust set a September 1 deadline for responses. Graham McWilliam, Sky's group director of corporate affairs, said that responding to the 75-page document within five weeks was "wholly unrealistic". That timeframe, and the Trust's failure to engage Ofcom, the regulator, in the process, "demonstrates disregard for the principles of good regulation".

Virgin expressed similar concerns about the timeframe for the latest consultation. The Trust defended the process as giving "ample opportunity for comment and expression of views".


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