News Round-Up (I): BBC Trust-Project Canvas, "Doctor Who," Canoe Ventures

--Trust Approves BBC's Participation in Project Canvas
--First "Interactive Episode" of BBC's "Doctor Who" Proves Successful
--Canoe Ventures Launches Interactive TV RFI Advertising on Comcast, Time Warner Cable

Because the [itvt] editorial team has been on the road the past few weeks, we are covering recent news stories in summary/round-up form. We apologize for any inconvenience to our readers. We will resume our regular format and publishing schedule tomorrow (Tuesday).

  • The BBC's governing body, the BBC Trust, has approved the corporation's participation in Project Canvas, an initiative that sees 1) the BBC and the UK's other public-service broadcasters, ITV, Channel 4 and Five, 2) UK ISP's, BT and Talk Talk, and 3) UK broadcast transmission company, Arqiva, partnering in order to attempt to develop a common standard and interface for the delivery of online catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer, the ITV player and 4oD, as well as other Internet-based services (including VOD and interactive TV widgets), to broadband-connected Freeview and Freesat set-top boxes. The Trust's approval stipulates a number of conditions for the BBC's involvement in the project, which the organization lists as follows: 1) Industry engagement ("completed elements of the Canvas core technical specification to be published within 20 working days from this final approval, and the Canvas partners to engage with industry on these and future elements of the technical specification," the Trust specifies. "The final core technical specification will be published no later than eight months before launch of the first set-top boxes. The Trust will keep this process of engagement under review"); 2) Free-to-air ("users will always be able to access Canvas free-to-air, though they may be charged for additional pay services that third parties might choose to provide via the Canvas platform, for example video-on-demand services, as well as the broadband subscription fees"); 3) Accessibility and usability ("accessibility and usability features, such as audio description, should be incorporated into the core technical specification and/or user interface as soon as reasonably possible; and appropriate information and signposting should be provided for users to help them make informed choices about the suitability of content wherever possible"); 4) Access to the platform for content providers and ISP's ("entry controls in terms of technical and content standards will be minimal, access will not be bundled with other products or services, listing on the electronic program guide will be awarded in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner; and quality standards for ISP's delivering Canvas will be set at a minimum level and applied in a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory manner"); 5) Legal compliance ("Canvas will comply with all applicable laws including competition and state aid law"); 6) Cost ("the BBC's involvement will not exceed the Executive's estimated costs by more than 20% over a five-year period"). A full list of the conditions imposed by the Trust on the BBC's participation in Project Canvas is available here.
  • Earlier this year (see the article published on, April 12th), the BBC announced plans to offer four original "interactive episodes" of its long-running scifi series, "Doctor Who." Entitled "Doctor Who--The Adventure Games," the "interactive episodes" are downloadable computer games for PC and Mac that allow players to assume control of The Doctor and his human sidekick, Amy, as they embark on new adventures that complement the latest season of the TV series. The BBC has now released statistics for the first of the "interactive episodes": according to the corporation, the game generated 524,299 download requests in its first 12 days of availability and resulted in a 67% week-on-week increase in unique UK visitors for A second Doctor Who "interactive episode" was released last week.
  • Canoe Ventures, the company tasked with implementing the US cable industry's plans for interactive and addressable advertising (note: its backers are Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Cablevision and Bright House), has quietly begun delivering RFI (request-for-information) interactive TV commercials to several million households in EBIF-enabled Comcast and Time Warner Cable markets. While the company is not divulging very much on the record about the launch, it has revealed that the pilot involves campaigns for several paying advertisers, and that the campaigns use interactive TV to enable viewers to order free product samples. Multichannel News's Todd Spangler has more.


North America