Sky Softens On Canvas, May Seek Carriage, But Wants Tighter Rules

Sky has published its response to the BBC Trust’s provisional authorisation for the Project Canvas connected-TV venture.

The BBC Trust, in its announcement in December, conceded Canvas could have a “modest negative impact” on Sky and Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED) if they did not embrace the platform.

The satcaster still considers Canvas an “unnecessary intervention which will distort the market” – but now its concern has turned to getting stronger measures that “adequately minimise the (market) distortions” (emphasis mine).

Because it thinks the trust underestimated Canvas’ market impact, Sky’s proposing a series of “additional requirements”, to cushion that impact – suggesting it’s accepting a possible future with Canvas, rather than just striving to prohibit it. Sky’s new proposals…

— The Canvas specification should be developed through the Digital Television Group (DTG).

— “Third party content providers should have access to the platform from launch, irrespective of business model” – this was effectively a Canvas proposal already.

— ISPs should grant fair network access to all Canvas content providers.

— BBC VOD content should be syndicated to third parties without the iPlayer brand and “without requiring distributors to carry the entirety of BBC on-demand output” (effectively meaning Sky may want some BBC VOD on either its Sky Anytime, Sky Player or forthcoming TV pull-VOD platform). BBC syndication guidelines are currently being reviewed separately.

Sky may even be envisaging a time when its own channels are on Canvas. One passage in its submission reads: “The most realistic assumptions are that Sky