Media Lifeline: YouView

The web TV service, one of 2011's most keenly awaited launches, won't arrive this year, after all.

December 2008: The BBC director-general, Mark Thompson, reveals that the BBC, ITV and BT are forming a consortium to develop a platform delivering on-demand TV via the internet to a new generation of set-top boxes. They decide to call it Project Canvas.

December 2009: And it appears to gather irresistible momentum a year later when Channel 4 and the internet service provider TalkTalk announce they are to become consortium members. It is revealed that each of the partners will commit to an initial investment of £16 million in development costs. The BBC Trust also reveals that the project has its full approval.

March 2010: As Arqiva, the owner of the SeeSaw online TV catch-up service, also reveals it is to join the consortium, the Office of Fair Trading announces that it is to undertake a formal investigation of Project Canvas - to determine whether it is anti-competitive. It is expected that BSkyB and Virgin will use this as an opportunity to voice their opposition to the project.

May 2010: After the OFT decides that the project is outside its jurisdiction, Canvas puts more formal structures in place across the summer and announces that its development costs will be £115 million (including £48.4 million for marketing) over its first four years of operation. In September, it is rebranded as YouView and the project director, Richard Halton, is appointed chief executive.

February 2011: But with lurid rumours growing that YouView has failed to address even fundamental technical problems, Halton now admits that the service, which had originally been scheduled for launch in 2011, will not be ready before 2012.

Fast forward ...

January 2013: Further technical mishaps and a major procurement scandal involving BBC bosses lead to further prevarication as to a likely launch date. Now YouView announces that it is to merge with Sky-Virgin's IPTV and archive platform run in partnership with Hulu and YouTube. They devise a new brand name, designed to stimulate curiosity as to the project's backers, combined with a mildly amusing attempt to attract attention - YouWho! is born.


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