dtgThe Digital TV Group has expressed concern that IPTV joint venture Project Canvas is failing to properly engage with all industry stakeholders to create a truly open standard.
In its final submission to a BBC Trust consultation, seen by The Guardian, the trade body pointed to “widespread concern” in the industry that key set top box and TV manufacturers are not being involved in the development of critical Canvas technology specifications.
Last month, the Trust gave its provisional approval for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, TalkTalk and BT-led project, which aims to deliver an upgrade to the Freeview and Freesat platforms by creating a new receiver and user interface capable of delivering video on-demand and internet-based services.

However, the Trust imposed conditions relating to industry engagement, costs and other aspects, while also opening up a final consultation for any further objections to be logged, which closed on Tuesday.
The DTG, which represents firms such as Samsung, Pace and Dixons, as well as platforms such as Sky and Freeview, told the Trust that there is a “parallel process” going on in which the Canvas partners and their preferred collaborators are developing technical specifications outside industry-developed standards.
It said: “The DTG’s membership continues to raise concerns regarding the Canvas project, especially regarding the joint venture’s commitment to engage with the industry.
“There remains widespread concern in the industry that there is a parallel process in place with a Canvas specification being developed by the joint venture and its innovation partners separately from, and regardless of, the DTG’s Connected TV specification work.”
The DTG said that the Canvas partners previously indicated that Connected TV specifications would “be at the core of any future Canvas devices and that the Canvas joint venture would closely engage with the digital television industry via the DTG”.

However, the trade organisation criticised the lack of a “clear and unequivocal condition” in the Trust’s provisional approval forcing Canvas to work with the wider industry going forward. Rather, the document simply calls on the partners to make their “best endeavour” towards involving other stakeholders.
“Feedback we have received from our membership indicates that the consensus among our members is that only a mandatory requirement for the Canvas joint venture to engage with industry to deliver an agreed specification can achieve widespread market success and represent the best interests of the UK consumers and TV licence fee payers,” said the DTG.
Responding to the DTG’s submission, a Canvas spokesperson expressed doubt that the position put forward “reflects the views of the wider DTG membership”.
“We intend to continue our extensive work with the DTG’s connected TV working group with a view to better understand the reasons why the DTG have raised these concerns in this way, and work to resolve any concerns,” they added.

“We have been encouraged by the wide range of consumer electronics companies who have expressed an interest in manufacturing canvas-compliant devices. These companies are also members of the DTG and we hope to make an announcement in this regard in due course.
“We believe Canvas will create commercial value for a wide range of companies as, at its heart, it is a project that aims to deliver the benefits of connected-TV, subscription free, to the public and a connected future for the UK’s content and application providers. We shouldn’t lose sight of this.”
In a speech on Tuesday at Informa’s Digital Switchover Summit, Canvas programme director Richard Halton said that the eventual Canvas platform would deliver various economic and creative benefits.
He pointed to research commissioned by the partners as indicating that Canvas would drive forward growth of connected TV devices by 70% to 2015. The platform would also help generate over £26m per annum in video on-demand revenues from services hosted on Freeview, not including premium sport and movies.

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By Expat