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Anthony Rose leaves YouView

iPlayer techie moves on

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The man who revived the BBC's new media fortunes, Anthony Rose, is to step down as CTO of the YouView venture, formerly known as Project Canvas.

It's a surprise move. Rose is well respected throughout the industry and inspires great loyalty from his team. Rose joined the BBC from P2P company Kazaa and gave the bureaucratic organisation some much-needed private sector focus and pragmatism. Previously the Aussie was VP at Sega Australia.

In a statement, YouView said that Rose "would continue to inform development in an advisory capacity", but that YouView was "moving from the concept and design phase into the delivery phase".

YouView said: "The technology team has already successfully defined the technical environment, built the user interface, established a framework for content providers and developed the core technical specifications for developing YouView set top boxes."

YouView announced a few other personnel appointments today. Former head of operations at NTL and BT Vision, Andrew Burdess, joins as YouView's operations director. Former Accenture executive Youssef (Sef) Tuma takes over as head of technical delivery.

New media is notorious as a haven for people who understand neither technology nor the content businesses – and the BBC is no exception. But the turnaround of the iPlayer is one of its greatest success stories.

The iPlayer had been announced in 2003, used a complex P2P technology, and by 2006 was years late. Over 400 BBC staff had inputs into the project. Rose stripped it down to a Flash-based system with a core team of 15, and shielded them from the notorious BBC bureaucracy – in which combat between fiefdoms typically takes precedent over achieving results.

The result has been a great success. In October, iPlayer answered 115 million online requests for TV and radio, averaging 3.7 million a day. Each weekly user listens to three hours of radio and an hour of TV.

The story has been told several times, but the best account is from Rose himself, in a interview with an engineering journal. (PDF, 840kb).

Canvas was hatched as an idea to create a platform around iPlayer for on-demand TV and web content delivered over IP. Backing the venture are the other public sector broadcasters, Arqiva and BT. ®

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