Five joins Canvas as partners await Trust

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Five has become the latest broadcaster to join Project Canvas, the joint venture that plans to bring internet TV from the PC to the living room, although doubts still remain about whether it will go ahead.

Five, owned by the German group RTL, announced yesterday it will join the BBC, ITV and BT on Canvas. Yet the venture is still awaiting approval from the BBC Trust.

Ofcom is understood to be concerned about the BBC's participation and there is talk that the Office of Fair Trading has been called in. The catch-up TV joint venture Project Kangaroo was killed off by the Competition Commission earlier this year as anti-competitive. The trust will rule on the project later this year following its second round of consultation.

Five said yesterday Canvas would be "critical to the long-term future of subscription-free television, as well as a significant opportunity to provide next-generation services to the viewer". It added that internet-connected TV would be "a major technological advance in broadcasting".

Dawn Airey, the chairman and chief executive of Five, said: "Project Canvas is an important step forward because it will extend choice and significantly improve the television experience for viewers. It's vital for broadcasters and other industry stakeholders to form partnerships such as Canvas if they're to open up new commercial opportunities and thrive in the digital world."

This comes a day after Microsoft announced it had moved into online television following a deal with BBC Worldwide and All3media to play UK programming through its MSN video player. The US website Hulu is also expected to launch in the UK later this year.

Canvas project director Richard Halton, said: "We're delighted that Five has joined the consortium. Canvas aims to unlock the huge potential of internet-connected TV."

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