BBC Begins Canvas Persuasion Job, Claims Overseas Interest

Now that the BBC Trust has published the proposal the BBC gave it back in November, the BBC is about to begin telling the industry more about its plans for Project Canvas. The broadcaster’s IPTV director Richard Halton is addressing the big IPTV World conference on March 25, and the BBC has even invited pitches to advertising agencies who want to market the service.

We will unpack and explain the proposal in greater detail,” Halton said via IPTV World’s release. Although the trust’s consultation, inviting industry opinion, has been open barely a fortnight, Campaign reports the BBC has already sought agencies for two advertising pitches: “The first, which has already taken place, covers Project Canvas’ identity and positioning; a result is expected shortly. A second pitch will involve launch advertising duties for Project Canvas.”

Halton: “We’re working with ITV (LSE: ITV), have consulted with all ISPs about the role they might play, and received positive expressions of interest from quite a few, with BT (NYSE: BT) being the first to come forward. We have spoken with a number of Europe’s leading broadcasters, and there is interest in the idea of a common platform. But we’re still very early in the process.”

There is a danger television viewers could ultimately be divided into two groups – those with internet connected functionality and those without. The BBC would like to ensure that, as with Freeview and Freesat, there is a choice in TV between those who wish to take a subscription and those who don’t.”

With Canvas, the BBC is seeking interested content and device makers to join it in a consortium to develop a common set-top box standard for delivering IPTV, VOD, internet video and even web content. The trust opened a consultation rather than its usual public value test as Canvas is considered merely a platform rather than a new service. Canvas would cost the BBC £6 million over five years.