The BBC is hoping that Project Canvas will level the playing field for the UK television market, with Director of IPTV Richard Halton insisting that free-to-air television must have IPTV functionality.

Project Canvas has picked up criticism from commercial areas of the sector, with suggestions that the major pay TV providers would prefer to continue to develop their own IPTV solutions.

Halton, speaking at the IPTV World Forum, reiterated that the BBC's thoughts were with those who were unable to afford subscriptions for other television services.

"The UK television ecology is a mix of free and pay television," said Halton. "Canvas is about letting the free side catch up with the others if you like.

Virgin Media and Sky

"Virgin Media a very good example and there's lots of work being done in this area by BSkyB but from our perspective this is about allowing the free to air part of the market to continue to evolve and to continue to have the functionality for its audience which it already has for people who have paid for television services.

"For the BBC it's absolutely critical to us that benefits of IPTV are available for those who can't pay the subscription for pay television."

Project Canvas is under consultation, but is hoping to bring a set of standards to the industry that will allow for a connected, HD experience for a one-off fee.

The project has been described as 'Freeview mark 2' but Halton made many references to Freesat, the free to air satellite service, throughout his keynote address, insisting that both Freeview and Freesat would benefit from the project.