Top Gear
Project Canvas ruling put on hold while more information is gathered from the prospective partners

The BBC Trust has decided to delay its decision on the future of a proposed joint venture with ITV and BT, which would provide a TV catchup service beyond the hugely popular current iPlayer.

iPlayer is restricted to BBC programming, with shows such as Top Gear proving major online hits, but the new service would make a much wider range of content from beyond the BBC available free of charge, and also extend the service to set-top boxes and thus straight into TVs.

The original plan was that the Trust would make a final decision on 'Project Canvas', as the venture is called, by July 24. But, while the Trust has published its interim findings today, its says its decision will be delayed to allow the partners to provide more extensive information.

This would cover the choice of technology, the way the BBC will work with industry organisations, control of the electronic programme guide and and the working of editorial control. However, it acknowledges that there is widespread support for the delivery of TV into the home via the internet.

The Trust says it will set out timings for a decision when the extra information it requires is forthcoming, while the Project Canvas partners said that "We welcome the BBC Trust's statement and the opportunity to publish more information and we are keen to support a timely conclusion of the BBC Trust's consultation process."

More after the break

Clearly the partners are keen to ensure Project Canvas doesn't go the way of Project Kangaroo, which was a commercial online TV project backed by ITV, Channel 4 and BBC Worldwide. That got lost in endless consultations about regulation and operation.

For more on Canvas, Kangaroo and the future of TV on the internet, see the new What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision Ultimate Guide to Television, on sale now.