The outgoing Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, recently announced plans for Project Barcelona, a download store for material from the BBC archives. At the moment, you can watch most BBC programmes for seven days after broadcast, free of charge using iPlayer. In a few cases, a whole series may be available for a little …
Why the BBC?
The BBC should only be allowed to enter areas where there is no suitable private alternative. Wasn't that the point of the BBC? Using its unique funding structure to make programs, offer services and take risks that the private sector wouldn't or couldn't afford to?
So WHY is the BBC offering to do something the private sector is willing to do and would do at a fraction of the cost? By all means make the BBC archives available but do so by allowing private comapnies to bid for the rights to convert and host them.
Re: Why the BBC?
The point of the "unique funding structure" is to make the BBC and commercial channels compete for viewers, not revenue. The idea being to keep up the quality of broadcasting. It has been pretty successful compared to the advertiser dominated desert that is US broadcast TV.
I've been downloading now for about 15 years.
15 bloody years, and still there is no decent legal alternative.
Broadcast (multicast would be a better term) is a stupid model - it makes no sense today.
Yet, I am expected to buy a PVR and record everything I want or may in future want to watch of this multicast stream, so I can then watch what I was entitled to watch at the time, when I want to watch it.
What the hell sense does that model make ? It is totally insane.
Admittedly, the public are slow to change their habits - most now have PVRs but still sit down to watch the news at 6pm, or sit through the adverts on coronation street - but it is only a matter of time before the wake up and demand personal media when they want it, where they want it surely ?
I don't have a tv tuner in my house, but I pay my BBC licence fee. However, I choose to download my programs from usenet to watch when I want to watch them, offline, in HD not on crappy iplayer within a week, etc. I choose not to record them on a PVR myself and faff about converting them to mkvs. Again - economies of scale here.
We have tried to replace an outdated broadcast/multicast tv model, with the exact same model, but added millions of places to store it all over the UK (PVRs). madness.
My Licence fee funds the BBC. It does not fund the BBC broadcast medium only. If the internet was properly seen as a full delivery channel in its own right, then it would be a step in the right direction.
Personally I'd be happy if tv (now in its digital form) was confined to history - it is an anachronism. Make the programs, and provide them for people 'purchase' when they want to see em. This can be as a fixed yearly payment (licence) if they chose that model.
"Broadcast (multicast would be a better term) is a stupid model - it makes no sense today."
"What the hell sense does that model make ? It is totally insane."
"Admittedly, the public are slow to change their habits - most now have PVRs but still sit down to watch the news at 6pm, or sit through the adverts on coronation street - but it is only a matter of time before the wake up and demand personal media when they want it, where they want it surely ?"
I'm sure all of this made perfect sense when you wrote it but do you mind explaining WHY broadcast is a "stupid" model, why it is "insane" and why the public will "wake up" and start behaving like you?
After all, unless TV rules your entire life how do you ever get to find out which programs you might like to watch unless, every once in a while, you just sit down and watch what is being broadcast? I ask this as a parent who hasn't watched TV in about 6 years and now has absolutely no idea what is on that might be worth watching - as best as I can tell, unless you like reality "talent" shows, the answer is "very little".
Without broadcast we will surely end up with a hollywood model for TV where, once something proves popular, it just gets made over and over until people get sick of it and then they flounce around for a few years producing garbage until someone stumbles upon the next big thing.
"how do you ever get to find out which programs you might like to watch"
reviews on the internet. The same way I decide whether to go to the cinema, etc.
Actually US tv in particular has got extremely good in the last 6 years if you use reviews*, etc to decide what to watch rather than the scatter gun approach of 'ill waste an hour seeing if I like this broadcast thing'. I think your point about reality shows hits the nail on the head
- people complain that tv is crap and that 'its all reality shows/cooking programs/etc' and it's because they just switch the tv on and expect to be entertained - I don't walk into a book shop and randomly pull a book of the shelf and expect to like it - if I did I'd probably end up picking one of the 'best sellers' from Jordon or Posh Spice.
*sopranos, deadwood, Rome, justified, supernatural, etc
I would have to pay a LOT extra monthly in the US to get those programs, and HBO only has those on for a short time every year which doesn't justify the money (using the BBC model of quality programming, but short series/seasons).
However, I'd be willing to fork over money for streaming the programs commercial free (like I already do with Dr Who) to get them on Amazon (or whatever) right after they're broadcast. I think all programming should move that route and commercial and cable TV both go buhbye.
Limited viewing: pay TV license fee
Unlimited viewing: pay extra fee
Thanks for that complicated summary of a simple issue.
"very little can be shown for "free" and that's not the fault of the BBC"
So, you know more about that than BBC DG Greg Dyke did in 2003?
[last one from me for the moment on the Greg Dyke speech - it's just amusing how all these armchair experts are happy to contradict a high profile public speech from the man who was at the time actually running the BBC]
Re: "very little can be shown for "free" and that's not the fault of the BBC"
Greg Dyke never claimed the BBC would make everything free. Only some of it; names, the stuff the BBC actually have the rights to give away for free. Which isn't as much as people here seem to think.
Prior to the invention of the VCR, nobody at the BBC considered the possibility of a home video market—hence the infamous recycling of many old tapes of Doctor Who (and others)—so they naturally didn't bother to include clauses regarding future digital distribution in the contracts of those they were hiring to make these programmes either.
Which means they're going to have to pay for an awful lot of lawyers while they sort that stuff out too.
I don't get it
I, and presumably a lot of other people paid plenty of money to get BBC content on both video and DVD. In what way is charging the consumer for the same content via an online method any different?
I admit that when the beeb started releasing materials on video there were no online fora for commentards to kick up a storm, but I personally though it was great that I could suddenly have a copy of my favourite shows to play back any time I liked. Shock, horror I had to PAY for them!
Back then pirate copies were usually pretty bad and you still had to pay some guy at a market stall to buy them, rather than a 100% faithful copy downloaded via a torrent.
So other than pirate copies being very accurate and available more anonymously, can anyone explain to me exactly what is different about paying the BBC for a video/DVD and paying for a download?
I'm not saying I'm whiter than white, but I don't delude myself that the two are really any different simply because copying and redistributing have become both easier and more socially acceptable.
£1.89 an episode? not a chance.... 25p? Probably yes.
I hate the license fee however don't think charging for older content that you wouldn't get to see as things stand should necessarily be free, as mentioned the transfer/hosting/bandwidth isn't free so I don't mind a little charge but the figures floated about (that lets face it are probably spot on) are sheer madness. Its an optional extra.
The comments made by the BBC previously regarding content access were maybe a little short sighted?
Agreed about the cost! BT seem to think that charging nearly £2 per episode is a sensible price for programmes on their catch up TV service. Surprisingly, I have never bought a single one.
I don't mind paying for downloads if they are high quality and DRM-free. But they won't be (not the latter, for sure).
If they cease making DVDs, torrents or some such thing will be my only option.
I have a deal
I'll pay £1.89 for each repeat I want to watch if the BBC takes £1.89 off my licence fee for every repeat they show that I didn't ask for.
Archive - definition
There is obviously 2 arguments going on here - 1 is paying to watch a repeat of last months episode of Top Gear and the other is paying for 'archive' material. I disagree totally with paying again for something that has already been digitally broadcast that I could legally record and watch whenever I want - just give us access to this using our licence number (or drop the DRM shit and let me save a copy as I used to do on VHS).
When it comes to 'archive' though - I accept that there will be some cost and am prepared to pay (like buying a DVD set of Old remastered Doctor Who).
My only concern is what the BBC definition of 'archive' will actually be - if they say anything over '30 days old' is archive material then I will be very annoyed.
An alternative would be to offer a virtual PVR service for those of us who don't own one - for this they could charge, but it would have to be something reasonable like £5 per month.
Re: Archive - definition
In the longer version of this on my own site, I do digress slightly into that timeshifting issue, which is somewhat related.
Essentially, as the UK law stands at present, there is a limited exemption from copyright for the purposes of timeshifting. That does not cover the making of recordings for putting in a collection for the purposes of repeated viewing, according to the IPO website:
So, technically, you can't record and watch whenever you want, as often as you want. Practically, of course, you can, because unless they happen to knock down your door for something else, any domestic copyright infringement is pretty much impossible to discover.
At the moment, I would imaging that the definition of "archive" will be along the lines of "something that no longer falls within the catch-up window", as that seems to be what broadcasters in the UK tend to negotiate around at the moment, with a starting point of 7 days, and sometimes longer for things where they want to have a 'series stack' available.
Essentially, what you're suggesting is a longer catch-up window. Easy to do for BBC productions, I imagine. Perhaps less so for some others, unless all the major UK broadcasters also decided they wanted to get indys to agree to the same terms.
The question is not payment, it's DRM
I will not pay for DRM, period. However I'll gladly pay a fair price for DRM free copies.
One interresting question is...
Shouldn't broadcast stations be encouraged to release their material under open licenses whenever possible? I mean sure, some shows contain foreign material, but is there any reason why a radio program of 2 people talking needs to be held under wraps?
One aim of broadcasting was to make music and shows available to the population at low cost. You only need to have a receiver, and perhaps pay some minor TV tax and there you go. Why shouldn't we go beyond that, and pay TV stations to create free material which we can all share? They do need to produce the shows anyhow.
Across the pond
Being from the U.S. and depending on the price, I'd pay for some older stuff. I already pay for U.K. releases of shows my g.f. and I enjoy, so it wouldn't be unfair, in my view, for someone like me to pay since I don't subsidize the BBC to begin with.
The author assumes too much........
The author said: "If you really want BBC content to be available for download free, “because I’ve paid the licence fee”, then I’d argue that what you’re actually arguing is that the BBC ignore any rights other people may have in that content"
Sorry, I don't see how that argument necessarily follows. The BBC broadcasts to licence holders for free now - is the author claiming that the BBC ignores the rights of others when it does the broadcast? I assume that when the BBC broadcasts archive material today, it has procedures in place to fulfill its legal obligations and compensate any rights holders. Why cannot those procedures be followed for making available archived material for download?
And further the author claims: ".. and that it fund the digitisation of material and provide the download infrastructure out of the current licence fee. And that, ultimately, means that there will be less money to spend on commissioning new programmes."
I agree, but then we're into a debate about how the BBC should spend its budget. I, for one, would be more than happy for the BBC to devote *more* of its income to making archive material available (for free) and *less* on commissioning new programmes. That's a value judgement based on my recollection of past BBC programmes and my perception of the quality of what's being commissioned today.
Re: The author assumes too much........
No, what I'm saying is that just because they have the rights to broadcast, it does not necessarily follow that they have the rights to distribute on the internet, or that those rights are available without any additional costs.
If you want them to make stuff freely available then you either restrict it to things where the rights have been acquired, or you ignore the rights, or you absorb the acquisition cost into your overheads.
When archive material is scheduled for broadcast, they'll arrange the necessary clearances, and pay the necessary fees to use it - but that can take time. Look at how long it took, for example, to be able to get the archive of Desert Island Discs up and running.
The effort involved in tracking everyone down and obtaining all the permissions for a huge amount of archive material is not trivial, especially when you start to get to older content. And rights are often far from straightforward - if you followed programmes like Newswipe, you'll know, for instance, that to show the 'Hollywood' sign incurs fees, or that to include footage from things like the Leveson inquiry is only allowed in certain types of programme.
So, just because they can broadcast something does not mean that they can necessarily offer it for download. Yes, potentially, they could move to a model where every rights request includes the option of internet sale or download. But that's not where things stand now, or indeed where they were in the past.
Freetards sums it up nicely
They have not a clue in the world.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAA what a weird country......
Re: TV license?
Feel absolutely free never to visit. We'll try to contain our disappointment.
Re: TV license?
I have surprising news for you: quite a lot of countries have TV licenses.
In Italy, not only is the license fee higher than that of the UK, but the TV channels it pays for still carry ads. (And don't get me started on the quality of the programming. You wouldn't think it would be possible to pad out the "Deal, or No Deal" game show formula to nearly two hours, but the Italians have found a way.)
I have a subscription to the BBC's iPlayer Global and I'm not regretting it at all. Speaking of which: iPlayer Global also appears to include shows that originally aired on C4 and ITV, including "Father Ted", "Black Books" and "Primeval". This is one advantage to having so much content produced by outside production companies. In effect, iPlayer Global is getting very close to a "UK Gold On Demand".
Re: TV license?
LOL. You feel patriotic now? Hum? Is it too hard to admit that something is fucking wrong there and needs to be fixed? I guess it must be very hard indeed....
And don't worry. I won't put my feet on that hole, even if you guys stopping being so snob.
With the current dumbing down I am wondering if it is worth having a licence fee paid BBC.
Everything they currently do is annoying me and they just fob us all off.
Decent TV programmes some to an end, good ones get ignored, reality crap is most important, F1 has been sidelined.
Getting to the stage I am watching less & less TV.
Latest is a tough shit about their news webshite spoilering F1 results before the TV broadcast, and they had the cheek to say it had been shown on Sky
Tossers the lot of them!
Re: BBC funding
"Everything they currently do is annoying me and they just fob us all off."
Speak for yourself. If you want to see what "dumbed down" really looks like, I suggest you spend a few hours dribbling your brain cells out of your ear courtesy of Italy's "Mediaset" channels (which were originally owned by part-time politician, Silvio Berlusconi.) Not that the state-owned channels are noticeably better, but at least RAI does still produce the occasional drama.
As for the BBC losing Formula 1: if you love it so much, you can bloody well pay for it.
I consider all professional sports to be equally pointless, so this isn't just F1 I have a problem with. The less the BBC shows of the more highly-paid sports, the better. Let the commercial channels buy those. It's not the BBC's Licence Fee payer's job to subsidise the FA or Formula 1. Both are commercial entities, so they should damned well act like it.
We don't own the material...
...no, we don't. But public money funds (most of) the BBC and for the ability to watch old stuff (I'd like to see The Young Ones again) they want more. You can see why some might disagree.
Whether or not I pay depends upon: 1, the price; and 2, whether it'll be available to me in France, or still blocked on IP for some asswipe "licence" excuse (asswipe because I can quite happily buy BBC DVDs off Amazon, so the reason is what, exactly?).
It shouldn't be free forever
Use your PVR if you want it free forever. There is no additional cost to them when you do that.
However if they want to repeatedly stream the content there are bandwidth costs, server maintenance and all that. Plus I suspect they have to pay out fees to the studios, actors or whoever for each play since it's a broadcast.
The tv licence is relatively cheap on a per day basis. It's not really going to cover you streaming TV all day I suspect. The problem is streaming almost certainly costs more than pushing it over the airwaves. So something has to change. I don't think £1.89 is that much for the ability to keep it and especially if that means you can come back and download it again as many times as you want.
Collection of bad arguments
Just because Thatcher sold the Trustee Savings Bank, over the heads of those who actually owned it, doesn't make it right, and doesn't make any of the analogies actually work
Although I doubt I'd use this service, I'm happy to pay the license fee for the BBC, just because of the quality of programs/ unbiased news...
You really should have used the joke alert for that post.
License fee number = 12 free archive shows
Here's a simple solution - your license fee number (and maybe postcode) entitles you to 12 free archive shows a year. Anything more has to be paid for via a monthly fee. Problem solved - casual viewers pay nothing extra, those after lots of old shows pay for viewing them. Or is this far too blindingly obvious?
Re: License fee number = 12 free archive shows
Twelve free archive shows per year is good value to you... say the maximum of 12 hours programming? I guess the reason it's not blindingly obvious is because it's blindingly stupid.
I've been thinking about this for a while. I'd pay a similar sub to Love Film for back catalogues of programs like Hustle and Spooks, around sixty quid a year extra for streaming. You can then add this to iPlayer, so the search returns all old programs... meaning you get the current selection, that might include Spooks, and if you pay the entire back catalogue of Spooks. This then leads on to the fairly logical 'offline mode' like Spotify. You could make a standard charge for this, or charge on a per programme or per series basis for versions to take around on mobile devices, allowing a nice option for mobile users to save the persistent hassle of conversion.
Numbers, give me numbers
To those who constantly moan about the license fee - consider this.
A bit of quick Googling indicates that in 2010, there were about 23 million households in the UK. And
in the same year, advertising spend in the UK was about 16 billion.
By my maths that is about 700 quid per household. Yes that pays for all advertising, of which commercial TV and radio is only a part. But for 150 quid you get ad-free TV, radio and online services - with all the inherent faults of an ageing, publicly-funded organisation thrown in for free.
The license fee may be enforced but realistically, you similarly do not have an option to not contribute to adspend on a day-to-day basis. If the Reg charged for access and removed advertising, who would bother? Its ads are unobtrusive, unlike those in broadcast media. (There is always the third way of charging for access and STILL running advertising, which satellite broadcasters adopt.)
This is, of course, separate to an argument about how much a license fee should be. And whether archive access should be funded. But rights holders are unlikely to sign those away in perpetuity.
Did you work for free today?
Re: Numbers, give me numbers
If I choose not to buy Kellog's Cornflakes, they do not send people round to demand money from me on pain of a criminal record. I can choose. The BBC licence fee is extortion. If TV were invented today nobody would agree to paying one broadcaster while you watch another. The only place this model exists is in protection rackets. You pay me NOT to burn down your house or I break your legs. It's illegal. I wonder why it is?
You are brainwashed.
Where there are no residual fees to pay performers per broadcast, programmes should be free to licence holders. The costs should be more than covered by non-license fee holders (ie, overseas viewers).
Where there are fees to be paid, lets estimate costs could be up to £10,000 (over estimate) for broadcasting to 100,000 viewers (under-estimate), which I calculate is no more than 10p per person per broadcast. I'd be happy to pay that, rather than the estimated £1-£5.
The cost is very important. 10p per programme is only about a £1 for an entire series, where as £2.95 per program is nearly £30 which is very unaffordable.
Perpetual rights and licensing are the problem, not the solution
It appears to boil down to is that the BBC doesn't own the rights. It should not just license stuff from commercial providers. People should be paid for their work and that's it. No residuals, or at least, no residuals after X years, where X < 5, on non-commercial use. If they want to phrase it nicely, say, "We will broadcast this X times and then leave it to rot. If we charge for it (as in DVDs or non-UK broadcasts), you will get residuals."
This might mean that the up-front cost is higher for BBC programmes, but that is ok. It is non-commercial. We want to make sure the participants get paid and the simplest and cheapest way to do that is to pay them for their time. That is how the rest of the world works. Having contracts attached to each work is a nightmare, especially as companies merge and disappear over time.
As mentioned further elsewhere, PVRs will change everything. Technically, they already have, but they still haven't gone really mainstream yet. Broadcast is no longer a one-off event, broadcast is forever, a bit like torrents. Moreover, PVRs and servers look similar. Hotfile, torrents and PVR-recorded programmes are all just "stuff on my computer" and its quite hard for many people to feel that there is much difference, especially when things get re-broadcast and are available for free, legally and ad-free.
All these "intellectual property" rights are not inherent. They are additional concessions we make using property as a model, extending a monopoly beyond its natural initial performance to make sure the actors get paid without a massive up-front cost. However, the corporations involved are now large enough to front that cost and I see no reason why we can't dial-back the IPR fiction to a more reasonable time-span. If we don't change the model, PVRs, torrents and the like will change it for us.
More like a Conundrum
The BBC is a government agency and it could be conferred that much of it's archives are the property, indirectly, of the British tax and licence payers. Almost everything it has stashed away is history - except, of course for the last Benny Hill series they recorded that was maliciously destroyed on the orders of some management pratt.
Whilst I have no objection to paying 'reasonable costs' of conversion, the tendency will for the BBC to see it as an answer to it's fiscal constraints.
Perhaps the answer is a two-tier pricing scheme. A regular fee and another offered to licence holders with a 15-20$ discount.
There is no need for them to 'gift wrap' CDs or DVDs - they can simply slap a plain white label on the product as an effort to cut costs.
External production contracts can easily incorporate provisions for retail sale.
Little of BBC TV fare interests me and my radio interests are presently satisfied by a remote programmable receiver I have installed at a family members house with the recordings transferred over the InterNet.
It looks like the devils in the details.
I'm late to this one so let me see if I've got it clear.
No fees as the UK license fee *already* covered the costs and you have a right to it.
So you don't mind entering your license number at log in as you check out whatever you want, citizen? Don't worry the information will not be sold to more than a couple of marketing companies. The rest of you can just hand over your credit card details now.
If I wanted that kind of welcome I'd go through C&I at a US airport. The TSA excel at making you feel like they'd prefer you just got back on the plane and f***ed off where you came from.
In short there are a whole series of *choices* that can make this *reasonably* acceptable or *universally* hated.
a) Is there a free option like iPlayer. Limited life view it or loose it, no transfers but no cost. Remember the BBC *could* make *all* online content PPV. They have not done so *yet*.
b)DRM. Option of cheaper (but tied) version versus play on anything (with the right codec, which is *another* issue).
c) Payment method. It'd had better be simple (as there is likely to be a fair bit of impulse buying) and be able to buy a whole series as easily as a single episode.
d)Price. The biggie. The various markets have shown there *is* a price most people will pay to hold something *permanently*.
The rights issue is *very* important. "New Tricks" was not done by the BBC, "Men Behaving Badly" was done by a subsidiary of Thames and so on.
I'm not sure if a flat fee or pricing by frequency (the more people download it the cheaper it gets) but at least it must cover the *infrastructure* and rights costs, which are going to be *substantial*.
A quick check suggests the largest D2 digital tapes (3.5 Hrs) have an uncompressed capacity of 226GB. C.Hill noted the BBC has about 240 000 of them. That's about 55 *Exabytes*. The tape silo (either with them directly or transferred to some higher density media) may *still* have a place in the architecture. And I'll bet there's still a fair bit on film and analogue video. This is rather more than some 2nd had Dell sitting in some teenagers bedroom and will call for *proper* systems admin skills.
*Properly* run this can be a way to for people to *own* things they remembered but never quite understood or introduce new generations to stuff they never knew about (Top Of The Pops as a cultural time capsule anyone?) while generating a substantial cash flow to fund upgrades and new programming.
There is also the road less traveled.
Turn it all over to the National Archives and let them sort it out. Hence my smile.
British people didn't really pay for everything
If you want to take the position that everyone British should be able to download anything that the BBC has ever broadcast in a DRM-free format for free, then that would be the end of the entire market for paying for music.
After all, every single that has ever been in the charts was broadcast in full on Radio 1. Add Radios 2 and 3 (and, in more recent years 1Xtra and 6Music) and there is relatively little music other than album tracks that hasn't been broadcast on the BBC.
How many films have been broadcast on the BBC at some point? Should the film-makers really lose any rights?
Do you really think that you should be able to get the whole of Buffy the Vampire Slayer from project Barcelona instead of buying the DVDs from Fox just because the BBC had secondary repeat rights five years ago?
In many cases the BBC will have to pay for the rights to redistribute other people's content. I think some people would like to pass a law that retroactively assigns all rights to the BBC of anything they've ever broadcast, but that's madness.
Now, if you want to limit it to TV drama created primarily to be broadcast on the BBC (in-house or by an independent production company, but not a co-production with a US channel like, say, Rome) then yeah, they probably should look at how much it would have cost to get unrestricted non-exclusive rights back when it was broadcast. Of course, if it was made in 1970-something, then I dread to think what the rights situation is.
Personally, I'd favour a mandatory licensing situation so actors, musicians, composers, etc get a standard rights fee if there wasn't a contract agreed at the time of production - rather than getting a situation where older TV cannot be released at all because some of the rights-holders cannot be traced, or the cost of paying the lawyers to negotiate a contract with the heirs of someone who had two lines thirty years ago is more than the total income to be gained from that episode of that TV series.
And yes, the BBC should charge at least cost (including rights-fees in cost) for rebroadcast beyond the week or two of the normal iPlayer.
Re: British people didn't really pay for everything
I was going to write something long and detailed, but the short and skinny is that broadcast by the BBC and made by the BBC are not the same thing. No one was suggesting any film, or song played by the BBC should be made available for free. Learn how it works before you criticise.
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