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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
6 Obvious Reasons Why Facebook Will Ban This Article (Thank God)
Clampdown on clickbait ... and El Reg is OK with this
Banking apps: Handy, can grab all your money... and RIDDLED with coding flaws
Yep, that one place you'd hoped you wouldn't find 'em
No, thank you. I will not code for the Caliphate
Some assignments, even the Bongster decline must
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 ...
Video of US journalist 'beheading' pulled from social media
Yanked footage featured British-accented attacker and US journo James Foley
Primetime precrime? Minority Report TV series 'being developed'
I have to know. I have to find out what happened to my life
Broadband slow and expensive? Blame Telstra says CloudFlare
Won't peer, will gouge for Internet transit
Netflix swallows yet another bitter pill, inks peering deal with TWC
Net neutrality crusader once again pays up for priority access
prev story

Whitepapers

A new approach to endpoint data protection
What is the best way to ensure comprehensive visibility, management, and control of information on both company-owned and employee-owned devices?
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.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.