Page last updated at 10:32 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Net TV plans get Trust scrutiny

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Since its launch the BBC iPlayer has proved hugely popular

Plans to take iPlayer-type services to TV sets are being scrutinised by the BBC Trust.

The BBC-backed proposals want to produce set-top boxes that can go online to access on-demand TV services such as the iPlayer and ITVplayer.

The device is aimed at the majority of UK homes that have not signed up for on-demand subscription TV services and do not have a Personal Video Recorder.

Setting up such services rests on getting approval from the BBC Trust.

Public views

In its submission to the Trust laying out its plans for the Project Canvas scheme, the BBC wrote: "the 53% of UK households that do not subscribe to pay television services risk falling behind".

"Freeview is already failing to offer the full range of BBC licence fee funded television and radio services," it added.

This situation would only worsen as the internet became the main way that TV programmes are distributed to viewers.

Project Canvas aims to bring together many broadcasters as well as ISPs and web firms such as YouTube to back a common technology that will make all the content accessible via the TV set-top box.

The initial devices are expected to be set-top boxes, with a net connection, that could cost up to 200.

The public - and any other interested parties - are being invited by the BBC Trust to contribute to its two-stage consultation process.

The first stage closes on 17 April. By 8 June, the BBC Trust will publish its preliminary conclusions, at which point the second stage of the consultation will commence.

This next stage closes on 22 June and the Trust said it would aim to deliver its findings by 24 July at the latest.

Subject to approval, Project Canvas is due to launch in 2010.

The consultation comes in the wake of a decision by the UK Competition Commission to block the creation of an on-demand video service, known as Project Kangaroo.

The service proposed to make available current TV shows from Channel 4 and ITV as well as archived material from the BBC.

Declaring that Project Kangaroo "has to be stopped", the Competition Commission said viewers would be better served by having the three broadcasters as "close competitors" rather than collaborators.

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