Canvas Will Explode UK TV, But BBC Must Stand Back

imageThe BBC Trust’s interim verdict on the BBC’s Project Canvas open IPTV proposal is due on Monday. We asked Andrew Burke, who devised and ran the *BT* Vision IPTV service as CEO of BT (NYSE: BT) Entertainment, what Canvas might do for the UK IPTV ecology, which, unlike world-leading France, is languishing with fewer than half a million subscribers. Andrew is now CEO of AIM-listed set-top box maker Amino Technologies. He was previously COO of News Corp.’s eVentures VC arm and founder-CEO of News International’s Tiscali progenitor LineOne

BT Vision pioneered the hybrid set-top box model by taking Freeview and adding on-demand programming through an integrated IPTV connection. This should be a compelling combination but – due to technology, content and marketing challenges – the service is yet to realise its potential. The BBC is looking to swoop in, hijack the model, define the platform, deliver the content and market it using the same machine that made Freeview such a success. For the first time, Sky may find itself outclassed by the infinite flexibility that a broadband-connected Freeview clone could deliver.

There’s a strong likelihood Canvas will go ahead but, first, the BBC must satisfy these criteria…

It must enable, not control, the new platform. A gatekeeper approach will cause too many conflicts.
— It should assist in the platform definition and not dictate it. The approach must be open, transparent and flexible enough to adopt

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