Feeds

BBC bids to control next-gen Telly UI

Google, Virgin, Sky all unhappy

The essential guide to IT transformation

The BBC has hoisted the bathrobe on its secretive and ambitious Project Canvas set top box project, via the BBC Trust.

Canvas has been nicknamed "Freeview on Steroids" or "The iPlayer in hardware", which gives you some idea of its ambitions. It's intended to create a single hardware and software reference standard for future net-connected free TV viewing, overseen by a new organisation jointly owned by broadcasters and ISPs. The idea is that manufacturers will have a common spec with which to create boxes in time for Xmas 2010.

The rationale, the Canvas team told the Trust, was that without technical and UI standards, "there is a risk of fragmentation, followed by a concentration of supply within DTT [Digital Terrestial Television] which in turn lead to competitive bottlenecks, gatekeepers, and the dilution of the basic FreeView premise of a single, free alternative to pay TV."

And there you were, thinking crappy gameshows and repeats were the problem.

So Canvas will be jointly owned by the Public Service Broadcasters (PSBs) and ISPs in a 2:1 ratio. Ominously for pay TV operators such as Sky, and web video outfits such as YouTube, the old guard will maintain their grip on the user interface, as well as reserving the right to charge for listings. The EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) and "UX" (or "user experience") will be designed by the BBC and the Trust, assuming the EPG follows OFCOM's non-discriminatory guidelines, didn't probe further.

Selling the listings is considered a "cost recovery" measure. Not surprisingly, we learn from the Trust documents, Google complained and has asked for the metadata to be supplied for free to anyone, "and not based on a commercial relationship with Canvas".

Virgin also complained that "a mandated guide and UX would put Canvas JV partners in a position of editorial control, which they may then exploit in favour of their own services."

As you can see from the diagram, Canvas wants to maintain exclusive control over the main areas of the EPG.

The broadcasters want to control the user interface and program guide [click to enlarge

Which might look a bit like this.

How the Cavas boxes' EPG might look

As for the backwaters, it's happy to leave them to third parties. And since the Canvas boxes will show web content, that means Canvas will control what websites you're offered too.

(Um... Perhaps the Grauniad wasn't the most diplomatic choice of sample sites, chaps. Bulls and red rags come to mind).

ISPs expressed concerns that they'd be paying for huge bandwidth demands - and the BBC says it's talking with BT about building a content delivery network (CDN) to ease traffic costs.

The Trust's assessment can be found here and the timetable here. Another consultation goes out in the Autumn. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
Microsoft exits climate denier lobby group
ALEC will have to do without Redmond, it seems
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to spend more time with his b-balls
From Clippy to Clippers: Hi, I see you're running an NBA team now ...
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Call of Duty daddy considers launching own movie studio
Activision Blizzard might like quality control of a CoD film
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?