Channel 4 is to join project Canvas, the proposed platform for network connected television devices. It means that all the public service broadcasters in the United Kingdom are now involved. Communications service provider TalkTalk is also joining BT in the proposed project. The six partners are inviting expressions of interest from other companies interested in taking part and sharing the cost.
The parties are still awaiting approval from the BBC Trust, which is far from certain in the face of strong opposition from pay-television platform operators Sky and Virgin. The participation of Channel 4 could be a deciding factor, as could the involvement of a leading broadband service provider. TalkTalk took over Tiscali UK which offered the only true IPTV service in the United Kingdom.
The increased number of partners effectively dilutes the proposed shareholding of the BBC, ITV and BT, subsequently joined by channel Five. It remains to be seen whether they will be joined by other broadcasters or programme providers, although if the platform is genuinely open that will not be strictly necessary in order to participate.
Project Canvas is currently working with industry body the Digital TV group to develop standards for the proposed platform, following widespread industry criticism over the lack of transparency in the project.
The partners recently created a web site to share information about the project, but no technical specifications have yet been published.
The proponents of project Canvas believe that a new platform is required to provide a combination of terrestrial broadcast and broadband delivered television and video services.
Many manufacturers are already producing connected television devices and displays. The main terrestrial broadcasters want to ensure that they have a common platform on which to promote their own services.