BBC Declines To Publish Canvas Spec, Until Autumn

The BBC has refused to put technical specs for its Canvas connected TV in the public domain, until the TV industry has perused the documents.

As we reported at the time, the project last month submitted documents detailing how Canvas will work to the Digital TV Group (DTG). But they can only be seen by DTG members, who must pay between £3,000 and £20,000 for membership and have apparently signed non-disclosure agreements in order to see the documents.

Since a seventh of the estimated £115.6 million, five-year project cost will come from the publicly-funded BBC, we thought there may be a case for arguing the information should be in the public domain. Plus, we were curious to see what the future of television looks like.

So paidContent:UK submitted a Freedom Of Information request for the documents. But the BBC has turned down the request…

In his reply, BBC assistant general counsel Peter Raynard says…

“The … information you have requested is due to be published in the autumn on the Project Canvas website … However, we do not consider that there is a particular public interest in the early release of this information…

“These are currently proposed specifications (as has been made clear to the members of the DTG) and may change or need to be updated as Canvas finalises the technical documentation to reflect DTG input. Future publication will ensure a level of certainty for the wider market.

“The information, when published, will be presented in the appropriate context. There is a public interest in ensuring efficient use of BBC resource and in the general public receiving information in a way that enables them to understand and interpret it.

“It is in the public interest that this information should be disclosed to all licence-fee payers at the same time, rather than provided in advance to one individual.”

Oh well; no hard feelings. We understand why the BBC would not want to jeopardise standards that, in large part, do not quite exist yet. The BBC Trust has not yet even given final approval to the project, and the BBC is super-cautious nowadays about being seen to act ahead of regulatory approval – though this is expected shortly.

So the specs for the future of TV, at least for a few months, will have to be only for the eyes of the DTG’s 152 listed industry members, including companies like Sky, Hitachi and Disney (NYSE: DIS), rather than the licence payers who will eventually benefit.

Until then, for info on how Canvas will harmonise living room VOD, offer pay-per-view IPTV and targeted advertising, content yourself with our previews rundowns of the BBC’s proposal.

Update: DTG tells us…

“The submission of draft technical and commercial requirements for expert peer review by our membership is part of the DTG’s established and proven standardisation process.

“The draft documents we have received from the Canvas partners are now being reviewed by our industry working groups as part of the development of the detailed specification for UK connected TV – to be published as D-Book 7 later this year.”