Five joins Project Canvas

BBC/ITV/BT broadband TV joint venture

LONDON -- U.K. public service channel Five said Thursday it would become the fourth partner in Project Canvas, the BBC/ITV/British Telecom-backed platform that aims to offer broadband content to the TV.

Announcing the move, which could cost as much as £5 million ($8.2 million) a year to operate, Five chief executive Dawn Airey said Canvas would extend choice and improve viewers' experience of catch-up television.

With Internet-connected TV set to be a major technological advance in broadcasting, Five sees Canvas as critical to the long-term future of subscription-free TV, as well as a significant opportunity to provide next-generation services to viewers.

Airey urged other broadcasters to "form partnerships such as Canvas if they're to open up new commercial opportunities and thrive in the digital world."

Channel Four has yet to sign a deal with Canvas, and is thought to be hedging because of cost issues. Canvas, which aims to give viewers catch-up access to programming from multiple channels and producers, is still awaiting clearance from antitrust bodies including media regulator Ofcom and the BBC's oversight committee the BBC Trust.