BBC, ITV and BT to launch broadband 'Freeview' service in 2010

15 December 2008 / by Rachel Mason
The BBC, ITV and BT are working together to develop a broadband 'Freeview' service to allow customers to view 'on-demand' shows via their TVs by 2010.

The initiative, called 'Project Canvas' will combine digital terrestrial TV service Freeview with broadband to create a set top box to offer combined TV and radio on-demand and catch-up TV services using technologies like the BBC iPlayer a the ITV Player.

"This proposal will bring catch-up from the PC to the TV set in your living room, and all for free. This makes convergence a reality. It will also future-proof our free-to-air platforms, Freeview and Freesat," said ITV executive chairman, Michael Grade.

BBC director general, Mark Thompson said: "Audiences tell us that they want more services through their television set. I am pleased that the BBC is working with industry partners such as device manufacturers, ISPs and other content providers on proposals which will bring real benefits for consumers."

And Ian Livingston, CEO at BT, said: "We are looking forward to working with the BBC, ITV and other internet service providers to support an open standard for the free to air market in the UK."

Broadband comparison service BroadbandChoices.co.uk welcomes the proposals, but warns that broadband users need to be made more aware of their download limits and fair usage policies while broadband providers will need to continue to invest in fast, reliable broadband networks.

"We welcome the proposal as a compelling consumer application for broadband and the next logical step in the development of the broadcasters' web-based on demand services," said Michael Phillips, product director at BroadbandChoices.co.uk.

"Consumers would need to be mindful of their broadband download limits since these could easily be exceeded by accessing the type of on-demand and high definition content to which the consortium alludes.

"Recent research has shown that 86 per cent of broadband customers still aren't aware of, or don't understand, their download limits. If they were to exceed them they could face punitive charges. ISPs must make the limits clear and broadcasters must clearly highlight the size of various types of content."

But despite the warnings, BroadbandChoices.co.uk has described Project Canvas as an "exciting development."

Although the new service will need BBC Trust approval and public consultation, it aims to be up and running by January 2010.

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