Kip Meek, head of Ingenious Media’s consulting arm, is set to be named chairman of Project Canvas later this week, according to the Guardian. Project Canvas is the groundbreaking TV service that’s being launched by the UK’s terrestrial broadcasters. Canvas declined to comment.
Meek is seen as a good choice, having been senior policy partner at communications regulator Ofcom. He also has strong ties to the government, having sat with Liz Murdoch on the Conservatives’ creative industries review panel, chaired by ex-BBC boss Greg Dyke.
“He’s a very capable bloke, especially in areas such as broadband,” one media analyst tells me.
Canvas has been rocked by Five dropping out of the project – although its programmes will still available when the service launches early 2011. Five has left the other partners – BBC, ITV and Channel 4 plus telcos BT, TalkTalk and Arqiva – to shoulder its share of the £116 million cost. Five was expected to contribute £16 million a year to help pay for Canvas. But now it’s being fattened up for sale. It may be that Five’s new owner doesn’t want to be saddled with that kind of financial commitment.
Set to be called YouView, Canvas could transform the way we watch TV here in Britain. Canvas will convert your TV into an on-demand portal, where you can watch the output of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five whenever you want. The idea of having linear TV channels could disappear completely.
EXCLUSIVE: The European TV producer Endemol will not be among those bidding for the UK’s fifth terrestrial channel. ITV has also walked away from the auction, as has BSkyB and Time Warner. Endemol’s founder John De Mol is bidding, as is Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers. Endemol may still try and get its Big Brother TV show on Five though. RTL wants up to $234 million for the loss-making TV channel. This is beginning to resemble a game of musical chairs. Every time the music stops, another would-be bidder walks off. Endemol was unavailable for comment.
Richard Desmond, owner of Express Newspapers, is seen as a frontrunner to buy UK terrestrial channel Five. Other bidders include John De Mol, founder of TV producer Endemol (Big Brother), and Endemol itself, which De Mol’s investment company Cyrte Investments owns one third of.
You may wonder, as I have, why De Mol would want to bid against a company he indirectly owns part of? The answer is, apparently, that there’s no love lost between De Mol and the company he co-founded back in the 1990s. De Mol’s Cyrte Investments has reportedly teamed up with Talpa Media and Greece’s Antenna Group for De Mol’s personal bid, says the Financial Times.
Analysts believe that RTL wants up to $245 million for Five. It is difficult to put a price on Five because, although it is loss-making, it has a strategic value which belies its place in the market. Five also owns desirable slots on the Freeview digital terrestrial TV service. Like newspapers, there’s bragging rights in owning a TV station. Not many come up for sale. That’s why they’re so prized.
Desmond is a colourful character with a £950 million ($1.4 billion) fortune. His TV interests include digital porn channels Television X and Red Hot TV.
BSkyB was kicking the tyres on Five, as was Time Warner, but both have walked away.