Project Canvas, as the service has been dubbed, will initially concentrate on developing standards for broadband connected digital television receivers. This would mean a new generation of subscription free devices, carrying free to air channels with a selection of on demand TV services like iPlayer and ITV Player, as well as the potential for films, shows and interactive content from a range of other providers in standard and high definition. It is also thought both standard definition and high definition content will be provided.
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.
"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.
Project Canvas would dovetail with Kangaroo, the commercial broadband TV joint venture between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, which is aiming to launch next year subject to a Competition Commission investigation.
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".
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