Thursday, February 01, 2007

Beeb's on-demand consultation

I'm excited at the prospect of the BBC making their content available on-demand via the 'tinterweb. However, I am horrified to learn that they are considering using Microsoft technology that may stop me from accessing... kind of like Channel 4.

We... as in everyone who uses an operating system other than windoze... have the chance to have our voice considered. Complete the online consultation :: link :: and stand up for choice.

Thanks to boingboing for the heads-up!

Thanks to Fifth Decade for contacting me with further info... This is shocking for all Mac and Linux users:
The problem is, they are planning to use a Microsoft-based DRM strategy. Not only will the strategy be based only on the Microsoft platform, but it will also need Windows XP or above and Media Player 10 to work. If you have a computer that uses Windows 3.1, 95, 98, ME, NT4, 2000, or any Linux or Apple Macintosh computer the BBC will thus exclude you - even if you have paid your licence fee../

I’ll save you reading through the entire document (it’s pretty yawn inducing overall) but I recommend you read just two bits.

On Page 10, near the bottom it says:

The BBC Executive proposes a digital rights management solution which would require consumers to be using Windows XP (or above) and Windows Media Player 10 (or above) to be able to access seven-day TV catch-up over the internet.

Then, at the top of Page 11 they go on to say:

Our understanding is that the BBC Executive aspires to offer an alternative DRM framework, which would enable Apple and Linux users to access the service, but has yet to identify a satisfactory solution. In either case, we will expect this to have been addressed within 24 months.

This is the most dangerous point. It basically gives free rein to Microsoft to build a dominating presence in the nascent TV over internet market in the UK. Not only that, but it allows Microsoft free access to BBC television for at least 2 years, as the BBC Trust only require a proposed solution, not an implemented one, within 2 years!

By that time, Microsoft will have used the advantage thus gained to deal a mortal blow to Apple in the home environment for entertainment, or will at least have dramatically clipped Apple’s wings so expansion into that space will have been made only by Microsoft, and not by Apple. First mover advantage would then give yet another monopoly market share to Microsoft. In the UK, the BBC is clearly the dominant player.
Fifth Decade

I'm not anti-Microsoft... really, I'm not! Its just that I want to watch BBC programmes (programmes which, may I add, I help to pay for as a License Fee payer) on my iBook and even on my iPod. There is no Media Player 10 for Mac and that, therefore, removes my access.

This isn't fair.

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Anonymous said...

Thomas, how's the colitis (mines is rubbish just now - stomach killing me). Anyway, can you change the link to Maranatha Camp to ( and check out my latest handywork. Ta.

Anonymous said...

The Beeb aren't just planning it, they've made all the arrangements and Microsoft will get at least 2 years of competition free access.

I posted some research I did about it from original BBC Trust docs, it's quite horrendous the damage this will do. See for more info.

Jonathan Blundell said...

Give VLC viewer a try. It may be able to get around the DRM license. I don't know for sure.
VLC viewer
Where there's a will there's a way.

Anonymous said...

Despite being a professional wintel fella, this decision does come across as a little wierd; the Beeb were developing their own open source codec called DIRAC, as I recall. Why they're not using it is beyond me as the codec did come across as being rather good in the stuff I read



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