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BBC, ITV and BT to offer online set-top boxes

Free-to-air TV and online content in one place

The BBC, ITV and BT are joining forces in a bid to bring free-to-air TV and online content to viewers.

The service, which has been dubbed Project Canvas, will initially concentrate on developing standards for broadband connected digital television receivers that will provide viewers with  TV shows that are being broadcast live as well as on-demand services such as iPlayer and ITV player and even the possibility of films and interactive content. It is also thought both standard definition and high definition content will be provided.

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The project, which is part of the BBC Executive's partnership proposals, still has to gain approval of the BBC Trust and a public consultation, but could be rolled-out as early as 2010. It is open to all broadcasters, device manufacturers and ISPs.

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"Audiences tell us that they want more services through their television set. I am pleased that the BBC is working with industry partners such as device manufacturers, ISPs and other content providers on proposals which will bring real benefits for consumers," said Mark Thompson, director-general of the BBC.

"This proposal will bring catch-up from the PC to the TV set in your living room, and all for free," added Michael Grade, executive chairman of ITV.

BT has confirmed the service will remain separate to BT Vision, its current TV on demand offering. However, it is not yet known how the service will affect Project Kangaroo - the TV on demand service from the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 - that is currently being investigated by the Competition Commission.

Michael Phillips, product director at BroadbandChoices.co.uk, said: "We welcome the proposal as a compelling consumer application for broadband and the next logical step in the development of the broadcasters' web-based on demand services".

See also: ITV online TV catch-up service renamed


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