Today’s news that the latest hurdle has been cleared in the development of Project Canvas – approval (albeit provisional) from the BBC Trust – is good news for most interested parties, if not rivals such as BSkyB and Virgin Media who have been vigorously opposing it.

The minutiae of the behind-the-scenes politicking are not of interest beyond a small group of analysts and policy geeks, but the future of Project Canvas itself is a huge story for the media sector in the UK and beyond.

In the last month, major broadcasting clients I was visiting in Italy and Germany both wanted to know everything about Canvas.  When I expressed surprise, one of them told me that for the European video sector, the UK was now “the centre of the world”. And now 2010 is set to be a watershed year in the UK, with Arqiva’s SeeSaw and Hulu, among others, also entering the fray, as well as TV manufacturers offering connected TVs. But if Canvas can provide an industry standard and a platform that works for broadcasters, telcos, content owners and viewers, and can support a range of business models, it will truly herald a new era of broadcasting – if that is the right word.

There are still further obstacles to overcome, not least a list of 190 conditions that the BBC Trust has applied. These require further digestion, but one feature the BBC’s Erik Huggers told me about earlier this year – an EPG built around search algorithms rather than linear TV-style listings – seems to have been overruled at this stage. But if these conditions are not so onerous as to hamper Canvas’s development, we could be still seeing Canvas-enabled set-top boxes under our Christmas trees a year from now.