BBC Project Canvas given go-ahead for 2010Online TV partnership to develop set-top boxes

22 December 2009

BBC iPlayer interface

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The BBC Trust, governing body of the BBC, has given a provisional green light for a project to develop an Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) standard partly funded by the BBC license fee.

'Project Canvas' as the IPTV project is called, is a joint venture between BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT and Talk Talk.

The service is set to allow streaming of TV and radio programmes through a set-top box plugged in to a broadband internet connection, allowing viewers to watch TV over the internet on their TV screens rather than on a PC or laptop.

Project Canvas set-top boxes are likely to be developed with PVR functions such as recording, rewinding and pausing live TV, plus offering access to video on-demand services such as the BBC iPlayer and Channel 4's 4oD.

Find a Which? Best Buy set-top box or PVR in our expert lab tests of Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes, and PVR reviews. 

Project Canvas to deliver internet to LCD and plasma TVs

The next steps for the BBC Trust, following a further consultation period which will last until February 2010, are to decide on the technical specification for set-top boxes. 

The Canvas project will also allow users to view internet content on their TVs. Online content could include services such as Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook as well as Amazon or NHS Direct.

As well as streaming video using iPlayer, Project Canvas could also allow music streaming through services such as Spotify.

Read the Which? beginners' guide to explore BBC iPlayer, or find out how to stream free music online with Spotify

The first Project Canvas set-top boxes are likely to appear in late 2010, with predictions for their cost being around the £200 mark, although one of the conditions imposed on the BBC is that the platform must remain accessible without users paying a subscription fee.

Many LCD and plasma TVs already have built-in internet access, and allow viewers to choose from a variety of on-screen widgets.