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BBC, ITV, Channel 4 & Five launch YouView digital TV

'Project Canvas' emerges as free digital TV catchup service

Project Canvas, the BBC-led subscription free digital TV service, has been formally announced as 'YouView'. YouView will comprise seven days worth of catchup TV similar to the BBC's existing BBC iPlayer service, as well as a website offering free TV on demand, apps and widgets. TV providers signed up to take part include the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five.

YouView will launch with a seven day EPG (electronic programming guide) that goes both backwards and forward, allowing viewers to watch or record any programme from the whole week. The service should launch in the first half of 2011.

Set-top boxes will be designed for the Freeview DTT platform and include a PVR (personal video recorder) similar to the Sky+ and Virgin TV boxes. There's no word on who will build the set-top-boxes.

Once viewers have bought a set-top-box, there will be no further subscription fees, although YouView requires a broadband connection to work.

Richard Halton, formerly project director, has been appointed as CEO of the newly formed YouView TV Ltd. He will work alongside Kip Meek, the company chairman, appointed in August.

"YouView is a brilliant new subscription-free TV service which combines the best TV with on demand services and internet content. I am delighted to be leading the team who will make it a reality and think it will change the way we watch TV forever," said Halton.

However, not everyone is happy with today's news. Sky has previously expressed its displeasure, and a Virgin Media spokesperson told Broadband TV News: "There's a pressing need for a thorough and independent examination of this closed, anti-competitive platform as it will restrict consumer choice and stifle innovation."

"We're all already paying for this through the licence fee, whether we want it or not, so we urge Ofcom to bring some much needed transparency to the whole collaboration."

YouView is owned and operated by the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Five, BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva.

See also: Channel Five rejoins Project Canvas

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