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Sky criticises BBC Trust over Canvas

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Sky criticises BBC Trust over Canvas
Sky has written to the BBC Trust to express "serious concerns" about how it is handling the consultation on IPTV joint venture Project Canvas, reports the Financial Times.

Since February, the Trust has been conducting an assessment into the potential market impact of Canvas - the BBC, BT, ITV and Five-led project which aims to develop a new standard for the delivery of content to broadband-enabled set top boxes.

The Trust recently issued its latest report on the venture after receiving an extensive document from the BBC Executive detailing additional information on the plans.

In a formal written objection, Sky told the Trust that its conduct during the Canvas consultation "will only serve to undermine further industry confidence in its ability and inclination to act as a genuinely independent regulator of the BBC".

Back in May, the satellite TV platform holder first expressed concerns about how rigorous and impartial the Trust was being in regards to its assessment of Canvas.

Sky was particularly alarmed about the possibility of the BBC using public money to shape the IPTV market, which it said could "distort competition" to the detriment of consumers.

It also claimed that plans to create a user interface for Canvas have suggested that it would be a completely new platform rather than just a service wraparound for IPTV.

The Trust has now set a September 1 deadline for any remaining stakeholders to comment on the venture.

However, Sky's group director of corporate affairs Graham McWilliam has since said that a five-week period to respond to the BBC Executive's latest report was "wholly unrealistic". He added that the Trust's timeframe and lack of engagement with media regulator Ofcom "demonstrates disregard for the principles of good regulation".

The Trust has defended its approach during the consultation by saying that it has given "ample opportunity for comment and expression of views".

A BBC Trust spokesman added: "The Trust's assessment of canvas is a rigorous process which gives ample opportunity for comment and expression of views.

"Following the current opportunity for comment on the proposals there will then be a further period of consultation after the publication of the Trust's provisional conclusions later this year."

Meanwhile, Freesat recently revealed plans to launch an independent video on demand offering before any initiative from Canvas reaches the market.

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