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BBC Trust to investigate next-generation Freeview

ITV & BBC plan set-top boxes with internet access

The BBC Trust is launching an investigation into plans for next generation Freeview service that provide set-top boxes with internet access.

Project Canvas is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV. As well as providing web access, the service could allow Brits to access HD broadcasts using Freeview, and offer on-demand TV similar to BBC iPlayer.

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Other broadcasters and developers, including Channel 4 and Five, will be encouraged to add their content to the open-platform service, which is expected to launch in 2010. There will also be no restriction on the ISPs that can offer broadband access through the set-top box.

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The three channels will be hoping the BBC Trust doesn't block the service, unlike its previous joint venture Project Kangaroo, which was recently blocked by the Competition Commission. Project Kangaroo was billed as a 'one-stop shop' for video content online that would have offered more than 10,000 hours of TV from the BBC, Channel4 and ITV, with around 90 percent available for free.

It is thought Communications Minister Stephen Carter is backing Project Canvas. In his Digital Britain report, which was launched last month, Carter said: "With other public service organisations, the BBC can drive the development of platforms with open standards available to all content providers and device manufacturers alike".

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

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