back to article Mac, Linux BBC iPlayers in the offing, says PM

The Beeb's controversial decision to roll out its iPlayer TV-over-IP platform on Windows only seems to have been overruled, presumably by its own governing body. More than 16,000 people (or accounts, anyway) signed up to a petition posted on the Prime Minister's e-Petitions site, saying that: "We the undersigned petition the …

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Kontiki

In other words, the BBC will routinely mention this to Kontiki every six months, who will not update their system, end of story. If it's anything like the media-delivery deal the BBC used to have with Real, they'll be tied into Kontiki's backwardness for years.

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Not just Windows

It's not even that the player is only compatible with Windows, because it doesn't work with Vista or anything prior to Win2k. That means it is effectively 2000 and XP only! Oh except all those fee paying viewers who are running server 2003 :)

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Stu

A new petition.

I want to start a new Downing street petition, it goes something like this -

"I hereby call upon the Prime Minister Gordon Brown to personally come round and clean up my back garden, the lawn has become overgrown and unruly. National awareness of this terrible plight must be increased if this issue is to be resolved satisfactorily. Satisfaction will only be gained when Mr Brown has flattened out the lawn to new EU standards and has picked all the weeds."

Its a bloomin free-for-all, the PMs Office is only perpetuating these stupid petitions. Perhaps they should put up a notice that it should be about important national issues that concern the central government only.

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So...

You really have to wonder, if the PM (I still loathe calling him PM, seeing as he wasn't elected as such) thinks the BBC Trust has this in hand, despite 16,000 people saying otherwise, how many complaints does it take for them to realise the BBC trust is just as backward as the rest of the BBC (and entire television, radio, music etc. industries).

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Tom

Hmm

This is news? The BBC have said from the start that they'll bring along Mac and Linux iPlayers as soon as they can?

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Why don't they simply distribute via a commonly supported format?

Ehh?

We need some serious, global ip law reform. Content is now, has been for some time, and will all the more so --- be a public good, freely available and distributable.

Dave

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Patience

FFS Mac users should just show a bit of patience - it is a far less widely adopted platform and thus Mac versions of stuff are often a bit longer in the making. Bear in mind the iPlayer Windows is still on beta too.

There will be an iPlayer for Mac, just hold your horses.

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Facts

Tim Lake - Vista version will be out by October, and the current one works fine on Vista anyway if you take a few seconds to research the tweaks you need to make.

The upgraded version just makes the tweaks for you, so that the IT-illiterate can use it on Vista.

Tom - don't hold your breath for Linux.

bbc.co.uk usage figures: roughly 80% use XP, 10% use Vista, 10% use Macs, and there are a couple of Linux boxes too.

Tampa Dave - roll another one and get a beer from the cooler. Dream on.

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Hold your Horses?

Dear Tim J, Do I take your post as an insult to Linux users or just that your not quite getting the whole idea of _open_ _standards_ which are supposed to make such market pressure irrelevant. besides 3% linux and about 4-5% mac users these days, we're going to out number windows users eventually so people better start getting used to the idea of using technical standards.

The point is the BBC should not have bothered with internet based TV unless it could put up the tech, it can't because it sold off BBC's technical teams. So the BBC should not be moving on such a plan until some other kind person gives them a standard to work with.

Or better yet they could have asked the FOSS word, with a nudge nudge wink wink that if the community fails to come up with a solution then they would go Microsoft.

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@Stu:

You appear to have the naive assumption that this site is up so that they can listen to the views of the public. It's not. It's so they can *appear* to listen to the views of the public. As such, it doesn't matter what petitions get started there because they're pretty much ignored anyway - and some lackey writes a non-committal response.

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Dear Windows users

"FFS Mac users should just show a bit of patience - it is a far less widely adopted platform and thus Mac versions of stuff are often a bit longer in the making. Bear in mind the iPlayer Windows is still on beta too."

It seems that all too many people like to rip off the lower case 'i' prefix to any word they feel that would make it more popular (mainly god awful ipod accessories). But then don't understand when Mac users get pissed that it then doesn't support Mac, yet the 'i' prefix was only made popular by the f**king ipod. I mean Mac has made made I.T. desirable, but still so many companies make their products pc only.

as far as i'm concerned it's a bag of s**t.

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Free?

How many people here know how much the licences for MPEG2 players cost? How much does MPEG4 cost? Until recently even the humble CRT display had a royalty! Life isn't free, the manufacturers just pass on the cost of licensing into retail cost. Plus with many codecs available on the internet the correct licences aren't being paid at all and that is why they are free? Is this right? You might well say free access but what about the person who came up with that idea? Where is there reward?

Media content is constantly surrounded by rights because of the efforts that people have to go to in order to produce it.

The BBC won't ignore the Mac community because many high earners have Macs, it is a driving force that at board level many influential people own Macs. They will likely bow to the market and produce a Linux version, but the Linux platforms themselves are so varied that supporting the technology would be a great effort for them to provide a good service.

Using Kontiki doesn't make it easier, but then again that was technology that came out of noble origins.

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Anonymous Coward

Make it a proper open standard

MPEG4, or something. Then the BBCs content could be played on those new iPods, Tivos, Hard disk DVDs, Pace+ boxes, Nokia phones, all those networked recorders...

Limiting themselves to just PCs, just Xp, just Windows. It's suicidal! Why on earth would you use a closed standard that plays only on a tiny subset of the target market devices when you could have chosen an open one that plays on all those and every other device too!

I mean would they transmit BBC1 in a way that only Sony televisions can display?

Maybe if they hired a Sony man to make the choice, but for a commercial decision that would be nuts.

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Tom is right

This isn't news, you are supposed to be a journalist, look at the BBC Trust website

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Anonymous Coward

@Simon

I hate to nit-pick, but Tony Blair wasn't elected PM, nor was Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath etc, etc....

In a General Election, one votes for one's MP, that and that alone. The MP is like as not a member of a political party, and that Political Party may go on to win a majority, and the leader of the party is asked to form a government by the monarch; but at no point have you voted for an individual to hold a public office, other than the MP that you helped elect.

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Old News and same old idealist opinions

This is old news, the iPlayer spec has had interoperability at the top of the list since day 1. Surely the editorial would be more objective if some mention was made about the main reasons WHY it is XP and media player only.

Producers (a lot of whom are not the bbc) want to protect their assets, and the only way they are comfortable with (and its not necessarily the right way) is by using WMP its propietary is implemented on the majority (a large majority) of home computers and provides a mechanism that allows them to protect their assets. It's such a simple fact but such a critically important one. yes i know there are ways of breaking DRM but new versions and mandatory upgrades follow soon after and most mortals wouldnt have a clue where to start with the cracks. the BBC are a broadcaster not always the producer why is this such a simple but MASSIVE fact that everyone seems to miss...

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How dare they!!!

Do you have ANY idea how much the Microsoft lobbyists had to give them for that monopoly? You know, they will probably put a hold on that 20 million dollar "thank you" check they had to write! And the Ferraris?! They won't get back what they paid for them either!

Man, what kind of world do we live in that won't allow Bill Gates to run his company? All he want's to do is show his love to us! And what do we do? We tell him "there's other operating systems out there too"! *Siiiigggh*

</sarcasm>

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Beeb formats on other platforms...

Bah, I just run xbeeb, makes most of the BBC formats available on linux.

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Free standards

Hi, Bob Hannent, one thing about MPEGs / licence cost / content 'rights'

I don't use MPEG myself - I use OGG which means that anyone can watch my content (with VLC media player for example). OGG is a Free standard, which has nothing to do with price. It's about the Four Freedoms of software - in this case the freedom to run a program for any purpose. MPEG due to its proprietary nature means that content you make is actually under the control of the MPEG licence holder. Most people don't like that idea once they realise.

It's worth emphasising that the cost of Ogg licencing (and FLAC for audio too) is zero, and it delivers a superior performance than MPEG anyway. Good support on a growing range of players (no Ogg, no purchase!)

Finally, when you say that media content is surrounded by rights - were those my rights you were referring to? Not in my view. People should have the right to share and co-operate. I think you were referring to media restrictions in fact.

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YESSSS !!!

'I hate to nit-pick'

At last, someone else who understands we dont have the American presidential electoral system.

Ok, nothing to do with the story, someone call me a cab ...

:)

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DRM is the ONLY issue here

One can download and play content on Mac and Linux already.

The only obstacle to making this a general solution is the DRM.

We all now this has been cracked already, so exactly what are the Beeb waiting for?

It's pretty straight forward to me: ditch the DRM and shut everyone up.

Oh yeah, the beeb have paid a small fortune for the DRM from Microsoft so they need to make it work to justify spending all that money.

Which involves spending more money on developing workarounds for the crap software in the first place, then even more money to business types to work the spin.

Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded our ever increasing licence fee is just lining management and Microsoft's pockets.

Thanks beeb for a good cheap simple solution ....not!

And yes I do know for a fact that it works fine on Linux because I have tested it legally.

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Re: Graham

Pray elucidate.

<quote>

And yes I do know for a fact that it works fine on Linux because I have tested it legally.

</quote>

What do you mean by "it", and by "works fine" and "tested"?

If you downloaded a wmv file from the BBC's iPlayer service and removed the DRM before playing it back via "whine", you were not acting legally. Neither could that possibly be construed, in any meaningful way, as "working fine". And all it would have tested was your ability to use Google.

So exactly what is "it" that you have "tested" that "works fine legally"?

If you want to understand why the BBC are obliged to use DRM for this project, and why Windows DRM is the only available option with the required set of features, and a huge number of potential users, I suggest you read some of the postings on the BBC's iPlayer message board, at bbc.co.uk/dna/mbiplayer rather than the ill-informed drivel in this article.

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Re: Dear windows users

"It seems that all too many people like to rip off the lower case 'i' prefix to any word they feel that would make it more popular (mainly god awful ipod accessories). But then don't understand when Mac users get pissed that it then doesn't support Mac,"

Hehehehehhehehe.

"I mean Mac has made made I.T. desirable"

A-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAA!!!

....Wait, was he being serious?

So Mac users think that anything with an "i" at the beginning should automatically support Apple stuff? Like "idiot"?

And I think you'll find the IT/net explosion had very little to do with Macs making it "attractive."

Hehehhe, that's cheered me up, that has.

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America is not the world

@OpenSorce Phreak

"Do you have ANY idea how much the Microsoft lobbyists had to give them for that monopoly? You know, they will probably put a hold on that 20 million dollar "thank you" check they had to write! And the Ferraris?! They won't get back what they paid for them either!"

I realise that you claim to be being sarcastic, but it is highly unlikely that in the also highly unlikely event of the BBC being corrupt and accepting bribes that they would accept bribes in USD. We have this quaint thingy called Sterling, AKA The Pound here, if it were going to be another currency it would probably be the Euro.

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Anonymous Coward

DRM is the ONLY issue, but.....

What should the BBC do if it is the production companies demanding MS DRM (as seems likely)?

The BBC has either the choice of agreeing to that demand (as they appear to have done) or not showing content for which the BBC does not hold the full and exclusive copyright. As the BBC doesn't have the exclusive copyright of (IIRC) ANY, current drama or comedy (all made by 3rd party production companies), that would restrict iPlayer content to old episodes of Fawlty Towers and the like.

What they haven't done is come clean about the whys and wherefores of why they are using DRM (and, specifically, MS DRM). All we get are weasel words and promises of Mac and Linux versions and the Trust checking on progress every six months.

Every SIX MONTHS!!!

That time-scale in itself suggests that no non-Windows iPlayer will be forthcoming for the foreseeable future, if ever.

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Anonymous Coward

Not fair

I'm a UK license fee-paying Mac user, and I can't view BBC content via iPlayer. However, foreigners and illegal immigrants (to quote the Daily Mail) using Windows can happily watch the programmes I've helped pay for.

It's an outrage.

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What makes these content providers think...

... that they need DRM?

I'm reminded of a story that went on in Australia, where some record companies were demanding royalties off radio stations for playing their music. Of course with side dishes of legal threats and veiled accusations of thievery. Quoth the radio stations "No worries mate, we'll just stop playing your stuff then".

I believe it took the recording companies until the next end-of-month figures to review their decision.

Ultimately, the makers of radio programmes and music want their things to be heard. By as many people as possible. It's only the suits that are deeply worried that someone, somewhere, may be enjoying their product for free.

If those "content providers" are insisting on hobbling their output using something filthy like DRM, then the proper response from Auntie Beeb would be "Well good luck publishing it yourself then".

Ah... Thank you Mr. Pratchett:

"You will have to look a long way before you find a bunch of scum-suckers more greedy, humourless and deserving of death than the suits in the music business."

-- (Terry Pratchett, alt.fan.pratchett)

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Sorry - I don't get the need for DRM here

Not that I'm too interested in trying out the iPlayer at the moment so maybe I've missed something here but, aren't the BBC only planning on making available programmes that they have already broadcast in the last week or so, in the clear, for free (license fee notwithstanding)?

So why aren't the rights holders up in arms about this given that it's just as easy to buy a cheap DVB-T USB stick and record straight to DVD anyway at full broadcast resolution?

Why is it only an issue when it's downloaded over the Internet?

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It's the Licence Fee, stupid!

Mac, Linux, MSoft ... it's all a bit academic, really ... especially so as the BBC have been promising to get it's act together on these matters for years.

The important thing is the BBC is using an imposed tax, for which I can be sent to gaol for not paying, for purposes which cannot benefit payers like me.

A one-time supporter of the BBC and the licence fee, I am now happy at the prospect of the BBC being 'privatised' because they simply will not behave properly.

Bring back Lord Reith! I know he's dead but he'd still do a better job than the barrow-boy they've currently got in charge!

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Anonymous Coward

It's the useless BBC, stupid!

The only problem is that the BBC has made the usual assumption that everyone runs Windows. We have Macs, Wintel and Linux in our humble abode so the ability to watch content on ALL or any of the these machines would be handy.

But we don't have the choice with BBC imposing the non 'standard' on us. With regards to the programme makers wanting DRM to protect their assets. The majority of them are commissioned by the Beeb to produce said progs and the rights for said prog become the Beebs, meaning they can do what the bally hell they like with them.

If they then want to make them available for download and viewing via iPlayer, thjen iPlayer should be all-encompassing, not adding the evil empire's wealth.

Stuff DRM and all its connotations. M$ suck, Apple's 'Fair' Play DRM sucks. Get real everyone!!

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Anonymous Coward

re: @Simon

"I hate to nit-pick, but Tony Blair wasn't elected PM, nor was Major, Thatcher, Callaghan, Wilson, Heath etc, etc...."

That's very true, but at least these ones were elected leader of their respective parties after contested elections - whereas for our (current) glorious leader's it was more of a case having dinner with TB and sitting it out.

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Anonymous Coward

False assumptions

"The important thing is the BBC is using an imposed tax, for which I can be sent to gaol for not paying, for purposes which cannot benefit payers like me."

No, in fact, you cannot be sent to jail for watching TV without a licence. You CAN be sent to jail for not paying any fine imposed on you for not having a licence, but thats an entirely different offence (contempt of court).

"If those "content providers" are insisting on hobbling their output using something filthy like DRM, then the proper response from Auntie Beeb would be "Well good luck publishing it yourself then"."

As has already been noted, practically ALL of the BBC's content is now produced by outside companies. If the BBC tell them to feck off then the BBC will have nothing but old in-house programmes to put on iPlayer.

"So why aren't the rights holders up in arms about this given that it's just as easy to buy a cheap DVB-T USB stick and record straight to DVD anyway at full broadcast resolution?"

Feck knows, but that's the way it is. The stuffed shirts in charge either haven't worked that out yet (and the fact that their chosen DRM is already cracked) or don't care. I, like most people, cannot see any point in DRM on music downloads because any track available for download as DRM crippled, compressed, low bitrate, overpriced crap can be had uncompressed and DRM free simply by purchasing a CD.

The shirts at the BPI and RIAA have their own agenda, however stupid it may seem. The TV industry, it seems, is little different.

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Public body

I use Windows, and I don't even have a TV license (as I choose not to watch TV) and yet although it has no direct effect on me I feel very strongly that the BBC should be provide services that are cross-platform.

One of the reasons why Windows is so dominant is so many things people use are only available in Windows. Yes many have alternatives or workarounds, but it is still true that moving from Windows to Linux is a demanding change.

Firstly graphics and network cards are focused on windows support (or use windows APIs making just getting running difficult), then their are websites which function in IE alone, programs that are not available natively, tech support only for Windows etc.

The BBC is adding to this problem by creating another thing that makes changing from Windows to Linux or OSX difficult. As a public body it more than a private company has a duty to remain neutral and give the public freedom of choice.

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Re: re: @Simon

Erm, except Major, who took over mid-term from Thatcher. And Callaghan, who took over mid-term from Wilson. Eh?

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Anonymous Coward

Global Audience = Global Access = Global Audience

The BBC should be realizing that pandering to only one platform is exclusionary. The REST of the world ISN'T just on Windows. Much of the third worlds are Linux-based and would love to participate. It looks like the BBC want to exclude them too. The BBC needs to get a grip and get to sorting this out before some low-life pervasive orgainization like CNN or MSN starts to erode their total audience.

Perhaps the reason the BBC reports only 10% of Mac users in their visitor logs is the word has already gotten out: 'BBC not Mac inclusive'?

When this iPod Touch thing starts to take off, what will BBC do then?

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Anonymous Coward

Withhold 10%

Its quite simple, withhold 10% of the licence fee, pay the other 90% and explain why. Even if you cough up before being taken to court, it will cost the BBC so much in administration, they'll either have to fix the service or more likely withdraw it all together. Hopefully they can then come back when they've seen how other broadcasters have managed to do it better.

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Re: Free standards

>Chris McGinlay

One of the arguments against Ogg Vorbis is generally that there would need to be support natively in Windows Media Player for it. However this argument hardly holds up these days, especially when you consider the fact that users have to download Real and other systems to use many streams. One of the many justifications for using commercial software is that support for encoding is often stronger, it has been possible to buy hardware encoders for commercial formats for sometime.

As for media rights, media itself is in no way free, because people who create it deserve what they get. Working in the media industry is very hard for a great many people. I admit that I have worked in broadcasting for many years and I now get paid well, but luckly I am an engineer and not a 'fluffy' as they may affectionately be called (no, nothing to do with fluffers).

I do however agree that once you have the right to download something for your personal use (either by licence fee or by commercial payment) then you should have the right to do as you wish. I have worked for many years on an idea for platform independent DRM but never found an effective way of implementing my ideas.

Bob

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Anonymous Coward

There isn't half some complete nonesense in these comments.

"The majority of them are commissioned by the Beeb to produce said progs and the rights for said prog become the Beebs, meaning they can do what the bally hell they like with them."

No they don't. Haven't done for nearly two decades - they remain with the production companies. And even before that some rights didn't become the BBC's - the rights to the script for example, remain with the writer (always). Or character rights. Which is why the Terry Nation Estate owns the Daleks, not the BBC. And how many BBC programmes use commercial music? Do you think the BBC gains the rights to every Beatles song that they include as a background track occassionally?

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Virtual Machine

ahem, as a mac user its not *to* hard to run a virtual machien with a copy of XP.

that terrible kontiki program can be installed in that, and do whatever it likes, since its the only thing installed. and the VM isn't running when I'm not watching.

In fact I'd say a mac user probably will get a *better* experience of this than a windows user.

if you strip the DRM and convert the tracks to something useful.. *shrug* ah well.

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How Ironic

The image on this page:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/digital/other/index.shtml

Is a powerbook.

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A life free of TV

"A one-time supporter of the BBC and the licence fee, I am now happy at the prospect of the BBC being 'privatised' because they simply will not behave properly."

The sooner the better. I expect that the BBC will continue to lobby for broadband internet connections to be subject to the TV license because of the BBC online presence (and the iPlayer) at the next charter renewal.

As a Linux user I could face the prospect of having to pay the BBC "protection money" for a service I cannot use. (I live in a property with TV users, so I'm stuck with the license, but the day will come when I won't have to pay the infernal TV tax for that incessant blabberbox. Just a shame that TV licensing tend to act like the Mafia, and terrorise those of us who choose not to watch TV)

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Yes but....

This is not about the BBC and Windows.

It is about IP rights holders and DRM.

IP rights in TV programmes are complex. Not only are there rights associated with the programme itself, but also with the script, the costumes, the characters, the performances, the background music, the set design, the pictures on the walls.

When the BBC makes programmes it must agree terms (ie payments) to all license holders for each and every transmission. It must now also agree terms for availability on iPlayer, and many of the relevant parties are currently very keen on DRM as it makes them feel all warm and safe, feeling that they're not going to lose out on repeat fees or DVD royalties because people can download do what they like with the content.

It is true that TV transmissions are not DRM controlled and that this would seem to make the entire DRM exercise subvertible simply by buying a TV card and a software PVR. In time, the somewhat paranoid rights holders will come to realise this, and that DRM is an expensive waste of time and money when it would probably be just as effective to make it difficult and fiddly to hijack unDRMed content on PCs so that it could be kept beyond the time limits - much like it's difficult and fiddly (for the un-savvy) to download from bittorrent, use a software PVR or keep a big library of VHS tapes.

Hopefully the pressure brought to bear over multiple platforms, whilst in itself misconceived, will help speed this process. So long may it continue!

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@Bob

"...with many codecs available on the internet the correct licences aren't being paid at all and that is why they are free? Is this right?"

Yes it is. If the people who own the copyright on those codecs want them to be free, then it is. Last time I checked, software algorithms were explicitly not patentable under UK law.

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Anonymous Coward

What a load of Tosh!

What about me? I dont use XP, have a radio, or freeview. Should I get a discount?

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Why can't they just add their channels to Joost?

I don't get it, I've been using Joost for a few months now and am very impressed, why can't the Beeb just add their channels to Joost, invest in their already amazing network and save all this hassle?

We need cross-platform BBC content, after all, this is 2007, not 1987.

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