The BBC Trust has provisionally approved the BBC’s involvement in Project Canvas, a service that will allow UK viewers to watch free-to-air broadcasts and Internet content on television.
The trust, an independent body that oversees the license-fee funded BBC, said that “the likely public value of the proposal justifies any potential negative market impact,” after it faced criticism from pay-TV companies, in particular British Sky Broadcasting Group PLC (BSY.LN).
Project Canvas is a joint venture between the BBC and ITV, BT, Five as well as recent additions Channel 4 and Carphone Warehouse.
The services will allow traditional broadcasters to attract a new audience as well as retaining existing viewers who have turned to the Internet for entertainment.
The BBC Trust said in a statement that it has reached its provisional conclusions “after a rigorous process of assessment,” with a large number of responses from individuals and the industry.
However, the BBC Trust is proposing “some conditions on the BBC’s participation in the venture, to secure public value and lessen any adverse impact Canvas might have on the wider market, where possible.”
The main conditions to the BBC’s participation are ongoing industry discussions, access to the platform for content providers as well as access for Internet service providers, accessibility, usability and cost.
Project Canvas partners welcomed the BBC’s Trust provisional ruling. “As a partnership comprising of both public service and profit-making businesses, we believe project canvas can be a significant enabling force for the U.K.’s creative digital economy and we welcome today’s announcement,” Project Canvas director Richard Halton said in a statement.
There will be a period of consultation on the provisional conclusions, which will close Feb. 2, after which the BBC Trust expects to reach its final decision in the spring.