BBC Trust launches Project Canvas inquiry

Combined catch-up service from BBC, ITV, British Telecom

LONDON -- The BBC Trust has launched an inquiry into the the BBC, ITV and British Telecom's 24 million pound ($34.4 million) joint venture to deliver Internet-based television to conventional TV sets early next year.

Dubbed Project Canvas, the joint venture aims to provide an open technical platform allowing viewers to access catch-up programming on their television sets from such online services as the BBC's iPlayer and the player.

The BBC Trust consultation will evaluate whether the project, which aims to begin selling set-top boxes to consumers by 2010, represents "public value" for the pubcaster and acts in the interest of the license fee payer.

Canvas is aimed as a replacement for Project Kangaroo, the previous attempt to launch a television-based IPTV platform. Kangaroo, which united the U.K.'s commercial players as well as the BBC, was rejected by regulators because it was deemed anticompetitive.

The BBC Trust, the committee that oversees the pubcaster's operations, will report at the end of July.