UK Terrestrial Broadcaster, Channel Five, Rejoins Project Canvas

Just a few weeks after announcing (see the article published on, July 11th) its withdrawal from Project Canvas--an initiative that sees 1) the BBC and other UK public-service broadcasters, 2) UK ISP's, BT and TalkTalk, 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--UK terrestrial broadcaster, Channel Five (formerly Five), has announced that it is re-joining the initiative, following its recent £103.5 million acquisition from RTL by Northern & Shell.

According to its backers, Project Canvas is set to be incorporated later this summer, and is currently stepping up its industry engagement (see, for example, the article published on, August 12th), with an eye to launching a consumer product next year. "Project Canvas is set to shape the future of broadcasting and open up new and exciting possibilities for viewers," Northern & Shell chairman, Richard Desmond, said in a prepared statement. "This is important to the future of Channel Five and having an open Internet-connected TV platform fits closely with our plans to bring brilliant new content and interactive services to viewers. We're delighted to renew Channel Five's commitment to supporting Project Canvas following a review of our digital strategy." Added Project Canvas director, Richard Halton: "Channel Five has already made a major contribution to Project Canvas and we're delighted to have them back on board. This is great recognition of how important Canvas is to the future of television."

Channel Five's return to the Project Canvas fold was not, however, welcomed by everybody. UK cable operator, Virgin Media, which recently lodged a complaint with UK communications regulator, Ofcom, about the initiative, issued the following public statement in response to the news: "With the return of Five, the Project Canvas joint venture partners represent an even greater concentration of all TV viewing. This reinforces the pressing need for a thorough and independent examination of this closed, anti-competitive platform. We're all already paying for this, whether we want it or not, so we urge Ofcom to bring some much-needed transparency to the whole collaboration."