back to article MP accuses BBC chief of illegally championing Microsoft

A House of Commons public spending watchdog has accused BBC chief Mark Thompson of illegally supporting Microsoft. In failing to ensure iPlayer on demand services are available to all licence fee payers he has been blinded by the novelty of the internet, it's charged. As part of a Public Accounts Committee session on BBC …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    RE:

    Funny how Pugh at no point suggests a solution to the DRM issue that would actually work, isn't it?

  2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    blah blah blah

    John pugh is my local MP and he is a complete tit. He is always ready to jump on the bandwagon for any free publicity regardless of whether or not he knows anything about the topic.

    I have not had a problem using firefox to view the iplayer but I still don't understand this argument about everything should be available no matter what. Before the internet, was it feasible for BBC Scotland to be forced to provide services to Wales, for the few viewers that may have wanted those programs? What about the other way around, broadcasting Welsh to the Scots?

    Should I be kicking up a fuss that so far I do not have a HD ready TV, and as such cannot recieve the BBCs HD channels?

    As a license payer, I fully support the notion that my money should be spent on catering for the majority instead of pandering to a very small bunch of whinging sods with big mouths.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Rights....

    "the BBC has insisted that desktop versions for Mac and Linux were not developed because it could not provide the Digital Rights Management demanded by TV production companies"

    But... aren't the BBC *the* production company concerned, or don't they own the rights to their own programs?

    Something fishy?

  5. Chris Williams (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: blah blah blah

    In fairness, I think here the point Pugh's trying to make is less that everyone *must* have access, and more that interoperability is a neccessary for the iPlayer to not give Microsoft an unfair market advantage.

    @Michael - "That said, if the BBC have to act then they should just cut their loses, and scrap everything bar the iplayer's flash interface. Ergo there's one player that works on all platforms, except the Amiga or something. Those of us that want / care about higher quality downloads already have the tools to get it, on whatever operating system we choose." bravo.

    @AC - "But... aren't the BBC *the* production company concerned, or don't they own the rights to their own programs?" No. Regulations require it to use independent production companies too.

    @AC - "Funny how Pugh at no point suggests a solution to the DRM issue that would actually work, isn't it?" The BBC obviously thinks it has one though, otherwise they'd be a bit silly to promise delivery within two years, no?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    @blah blah blah

    "As a license payer, I fully support the notion that my money should be spent on catering for the majority instead of pandering to a very small bunch of whinging sods with big mouths".

    That is exactly the argument here... for EVERYONE or at least the majority to be able to access the iPlayer, and not just pandering to a small CORPORATE (MS) bunch of whinging sods and bigmouths!

    Also how very arrogant of you to think that simply because you can access this player then you are the majority.

    Anonymous Coward indeed.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Codswallop

    It doesn't matter wether John Pugh is a tit or not. What matters is that the BBC's design brief should have been for a multi-OS player that played only their content. They could have written their own DRM into it, such that the content could only be played on their iPlayer on any system.

    Then the whole M$, Linux, Mac debate would be moot. And they wouldn't be paying my licence fee to M$ for a proprietary (and crap) DRM licence.

  8. Gavin McMenemy

    Hmmm...

    I thought I would give iPlayer a whirl the other day. There was a show that was about to go off air and I wanted to go to bed. So, as I have an XP (x64 edition) pc at home (for my gaming pleasure) I duly downloaded it. Imagine my surprise when I got an error message stating that I need to be running "Windows XP" to install it. When I reported this issue to the Beeb can you imagine my surprise when I received an email stating that the only OSes supported where XP and Vista. What am I running then?

    No one seems able to provide a decent explanation why.

    Must be that pesky x64 appellation.

    I love the Streams actually. I don't have a telly any more and I can just sit back and watch the occasional show I want when I want ... so long as it's still listed on the site.

    Even if Mr Pugh is a tit I hope he gets the Beeb to put their house in order.

  9. Barney
    Unhappy

    What's the alternative?

    Seriously, I've yet to see one suggested.

    Right now we seem to be heading towards having the iPlayer downloads removed completely from the majority of computer users to satisfy a small minority.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    iPlayer, DRM, and codecs

    I heard (via the grapevine of someone that used to work at the BBC) that they DID have a DRM and codec alternative developed in house that worked under multiple platforms. It was (apparently) quite a clean solution that they were getting ready to opensource as well.

    As for support within 2 years - the codebase that Microsoft have used to provide their player is slated for cross platform support in less than 2 years, so the BBC may just be relying on that happening to give them their "get out of jail free" solution.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What has happened to fair use?

    When the BBC broadcasts the program, everyone in the UK can watch it, record it to DVD or VCR, play it back years later from their own recording.

    No DRM involved there.

    Why does the BBC put limits on the Internet download by UK people? Why add DRM where there was non before?

  12. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge
    Stop

    But then again...

    John Pugh is a beancounter who has never really achieved anything in his life except the ability to count beans inaccurately.

    Mark Thompson and Mark Byford on the other hand are two amiable open minded chaps (and yes, I do know them both) who have the job of steering the BBC through major change and innovation in an uncharted sea where change is the only constant.

    Having travelled the globe several times - I can confidently say that the quality of the BBC output ranks head and shoulders above any other media corporation on the planet and is something the UK should be proud of rather than taking every possible opportunity to bite chunks out of it.

    RE the media payer - like most other things on the BBC website - it's excellent. And it remains excellent to the majority of PC users around the world.

    If you own a Mac, or choose Linux... fair play, that is your choice. But you need to understand that you are in a large minority, and as we still try to work around the principle of majority rule, you should expect to wait just a little longer while the majority is catered for. If you can't wait, the answer is simple... go use a PC in your local library to use the player. If you can't possibly bear to make that effort to solve your own problems, get a digital TV recorder.

  13. Spleen

    Hyperbole

    "What might be a pragmatic choice for a privately funded company becomes deeply problematic for a public corporation."

    I fail to see why. The argument about it breaching state aid laws may be valid, but absent any professional legal opinion, it seems just as valid as the argument that licence-payers' money should be used to fund programmes. Not to make Linux geeks feel more included.

    If the BBC stump out more money to make it compatible with Linux, I assume it'll give the same treatment to the Amiga and Workbench? Either the BBC is allowed to find its own balance between cost and accessibility, or it's forced to open it up to everybody. The BBC is one of the few public bodies that makes anything remotely resembling a contribution to humanity, so I say let it make its own choice on this one.

  14. Chris
    Flame

    re: blah blah blah

    Your analogy of Scotland programmes being shown in Wales is completely wrong. This has nothing to do with content, but accessibility.

    How would you feel if you had to buy, say, a Sony TV to watch the BBC because the BBC deemed Sony to be the most popular platform. This would give Sony a very unfair advantage and no competitors would be able to get a look in.

    The BBC's charter specifies that it must provide equal access to all. So, I would prefer the BBC spend its (our) money on providing a proper implementation that befits its charter rather than line the pockets of a convicted monopoly!

    @RE:

    It's not up to John Pugh to come up with a solution. The BBC cocked up and it's their problem to solve.

  15. Oliver Clar

    @ Barney...

    But look at the stats - at the mo it's running aobut 80% streaming 20% downloads... At the mo streaming is the popular alternative!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    What does it matter?

    I only like the on-line version anyway, I use it on my mac, it works great, no problem! I cant stand the P2P aspect of the download player. But still, a knock against microsoft is one for the little guy.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:

    "But... aren't the BBC *the* production company concerned, or don't they own the rights to their own programs?"

    No, over 25% of the BBC's content must (under it's legal charter) be made by independent production companies. But indies aren't really the big problem - the BBC don't have the rights to distribute in house shows for any longer either, because they can't get the rights to the bits of content that every programme uses - the music, acting, stills, scripts and extracts. They're used by pretty much every programme, and they belong to other people who are unwilling to give the rights on anything more than a temporary basis. And if they are willing to allow non-DRM downloads, they want a heck of a lot of cash for it - but nobody seems keen on an £800 per annum licence fee.

    "The BBC obviously thinks it has one though, otherwise they'd be a bit silly to promise delivery within two years, no?"

    The BBC haven't (Thompson can't speak in public to save his life) - indeed, that requirement is *specifically taken out* of the BBC Trust's final service licence for iPlayer at the BBC's request, since they couldn't guarantee it. The final document just says progress will be monitored every six months, and doesn't put any time limit on it at all. However, some BBC staff have said on the Backstage podcasts that they're looking at Adobe AIR and some of the DRM that is being implemented there. It doesn't all work yet though.

  18. Rob Crawford

    Hell hath no fury like an OS scorned

    @ Michael : you are a linux devotee, I'm sorry to hear that, just like I'm sorry to hear about devotees of Windows (are there any), OSX, Free BSD, BeOS (which I liked) OS9, AmigaDOS, TOS, CPM or a multitude of others (how about TRDOS ;) )

    I'm a pragmatist and use either the system best suited to the task in hand (the option I prefer) or what I am forced to use (the more usual situation).

    What is the critical mass of devotees before the BBC has to support your platform of choice. What about hardware platforms, where should the line be drawn ?

    For the other comments

    Unfortunitly the British public are not the owners of many programmes broadcast by the BBC (TV or radio)

    Ofcourse you could increase the license fee so the BBC can make all programmes in house, but then people would probably complain about that too.

    In the end it's got to be DRM (whether it actually works or whether I agree with it or not dosn't matter). This means catering for the majority of potential viewers in the UK (I'm afraid that means windows).

    I could start bleating about the lack of a Solaris version (I'm forced to use solaris on occasion), windows CE (for my iPaq), Free BSD for an old box I have hanging around. But in the end people would call me acward and indeed I would be exactly that

    How come people just bitch about it and never come up with workable solutions.

    As for the MP in question, hey those buggers as as much as balls to a monk

  19. Phil Cooke
    Black Helicopters

    RE: Production Company

    But... aren't the BBC *the* production company concerned, or don't they own the rights to their own programs?

    No, they also buy in programs internationally which obviously the producers want guarantees will be protected as well as from independents in the UK as previously mentioned.

    However, I think that it's a fair point that it should be opened up as much as possible, 2 years for a MAC or Linux client seems extreme......

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And for narrowband!

    The BBC should be making its programmes accessible to people who don't have broadband, too!

  21. Tom Silver badge

    Its quite simple really:

    So the BBC doesnt own all the content?

    For the stuff it does - it can stream it without DRM.

    For the stuff it doesnt - let the owner stream it.

  22. Alexander Hanff
    Stop

    Re: Waste of Money

    Michael,

    Your assertation that the flash player works on all platforms is incorrect. It does not work on 64bit Linux due to Adobe's failure to release a plugin for 64bit Firefox. Given the number of machines out there now shipping with 64bit processors it is totally unacceptable that they are using a proprietary format which is not 64bit compatible across all 64bit operating systems. Especially when software exists for video streaming over the web, which are compatible.

  23. Mark
    Thumb Down

    iPlayer name

    It's sad to see that the Beeb jumped on the "i" bandwagon, rather than being original and coming-up with something new.

    There again such lack of originality and inspiration is evident from their Christmas television schedule, so why am I surprised?

  24. Matt

    A few things:

    The BBC didn't need to spend more to make it work on other systems, if it had been built in from the beginning.

    This is about the BBC illegally pushing Microsoft's products. Windows may be the majority but things like this prevent any new comer from competing, which in the long,g term push up my costs.

    As for the nutter who posted:

    "Having travelled the globe several times - I can confidently say that the quality of the BBC output ranks head and shoulders above any other media corporation on the planet and is something the UK should be proud of rather than taking every possible opportunity to bite chunks out of it."

    I've travelled the world too, and what you say may have been true twenty five years ago, but isn't any more (with the exception of the US). The quality of journalism and shows has steadily fallen to the point where of embarrassment!

  25. James Bryant

    why???

    why do the bbc have to provide for everyone, people complain that they can't get the service because they don't use windows, why not complain that you don't get the service because you don't have broadband or because you don't have computer, or complain that you can't watch TV because you don't own a television. nobody has yet managed to suggest a service, with suitable rights management, not that DRM was ever a good idea, or one that works.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Jeremy

    'That is exactly the argument here... for EVERYONE or at least the majority to be able to access the iPlayer, and not just pandering to a small CORPORATE (MS) bunch of whinging sods and bigmouths!'

    It isn't about pandering to MS. If you look at the figures, XP is by far the most widespread OS on the desktop. So it makes sense for the BBC to spend public money on providing services for that.

    IF Mac or Linux had the majority share, or even close to large numbers of users then they should cater for it, but they haven't. Your argument about pandering to a SMALL CORPORATE is weak. Linux has a tiny tiny percentage of users, Mac has a few percent more but not much. Just because you may use one or the other does not automatically mean huge numbers of other people do too.

    As for the accessibility, all the programs ARE accessible. Everything on the iplayer is something that has already been shown, not exclusive content. The internet in this instance is being used as nothing more than a way to catch up with something you missed. So your choices are:

    Watch it when broadcast

    Tape it on video for watching later

    Record it to DVD for watching later

    Record it on a hard disk recorder for watching later

    Watch the repeat later in the week - almost everything is shown at least twice

    Watch it on the iplayer

    Given all these available means of watching something, how exactly are the programmes not accessible?

  27. This post has been deleted by its author

  28. Jon Green
    Linux

    @AC - "A solution to the DRM issue"

    "Funny how Pugh at no point suggests a solution to the DRM issue that would actually work, isn't it?"

    There's a very simple solution. No DRM. The media market is moving away from DRM, anyway. Expect significant moves in this direction in 2008.

    Unfortunately, this is unlikely to feed into iPlayer for some time yet, as the BBC has to get clearances from the rights owners for all the material supplied through iPlayer, before it can provide it DRM-free. A disappointing number of the rights owners are, right now, so obsessed with rights/restrictions management that they would need major surgery to extract their heads from the orifices into which they're presently jammed. That will change, forced by market momentum, just not tomorrow.

    However, there are cross-platform DRM-enabled alternatives that work right now, even if they're still proprietary. Real's solution has been used for streaming by the BBC for years, and it is supported on Mac and Linux. An organisation with the clout of the Beeb wouldn't have problems persuading the Real execs to provide additional functionality to satisfy its needs, in order to leverage Real's technology into even more homes.

  29. Nardak
    Pirate

    We already own the BBC.

    The BBC is funded, let's face it, by a TAX (The TV License cannot be anything else when every registered address in the UK has to pay it!)

    IMHO Everything shown by the BBC is paid for and owned by the British Public. Let's be done with this IPlayer faff and just get the Beeb to make programs available to the Public on DivX filtered by IP origin.

    For those who whinge that the programs will leak out of the restriction of the UK - they're going to do so regardless, so lets have less of our BBC-TAX money spent on funding Microsoft and DRM companies and more money on content we can enjoy!

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    sod the operating systems it doesn't work on my Wii

    Which is a real shame as my Wii is positioned in the right place in relation to my Sofa for me to sit and watch telly, unlike my various computers with various operating systems.

  31. Frank Bough
    Stop

    'Minorities' not the point

    "As a license payer, I fully support the notion that my money should be spent on catering for the majority instead of pandering to a very small bunch of whinging sods with big mouths."

    Jesus wept man, can't you see the bigger picture here? iPlayer is EXACTLY like the BBC broadcasting to people who own Sony TV exclusively and then claiming that's OK because m=ore people have Sony TVs than any other brand. The iPlayer débacle is an important watershed - up until now the BBC has broadcast in internationally STANDARDISED formats. We must not accept this notion of proprietary technologyendorsed and promoted by a publically funded resource like the BBC.

  32. Phil Rigby
    Paris Hilton

    Who cares about the OS, it's the timeline

    Whether or not XP/Vista computers generate more hits than Linux/Mac isn't really the issue. The issue is it shouldn't take 2 years to make another version. 3 - 6 months is a far more acceptable timeframe. There's people who spend less than 2 years in jail for murder.

    And as for the idiots who are saying why not do an Amiga/Workbench version, geez... grow up. That's a pointless statement. I'm sure the ratio of Amiga : Linux/Mac is significantly less than the ratio of Linux/Mac : Windows.

    Also Alexander was right, if you want to spank someone talk about Adobe and not providing a 64-bit version of the plugin.

    Paris Hilton icon - spankings, tv etc...

  33. Rob Crawford

    Fandom has a price

    For the BBCs own codec, I seem to remember the BBC being told to cut costs (by HM goverment) and rather a lot of their IT and R&D people forced to depart to pastures new. Unfortunitly you can't have your cake and eat it.

    @mr Fair use et al ......

    Recording to VCR, you have a shitty copy that degrades with every copy (and even each play). With a digital download, the damn thing is worldwide within minutes of broadcast, therefore killing any overseas sales of the programme that the production company where relying upon to make a profit.

    In reality it's a more than just a different media, the digital media is so much more easily transported / pirated. Sadly there is no answer as DRM is inherently breakable it's not worth the effort. However for the BBC to make the content available online they must go with what the content providers insist upon.

    Of course we could have a 2 tier system, wherre the BBC publish their own content without DRM (and OS independant).

    Any external productions can go out through the DRM equipped player version. At least in that case minority OS fanbase can place the blame where it belongs.

    @Chris

    By brother has no internet access, wheres his accessability to the streaming content ? He has a right to it dosn't he ? (actually you could say that he has opted out of that right by living somewhere where broadbandisnt available, just as you have opted out by using linux).

    I feel your example of a Sony TV is a poor one (actually childish is closer to my opinion). How about the BBC are hindering accessability as they insist on using PAL rather than NTSC. Your choice is being limited because the TV you want to use is only PAL compatable. Damn the BBC

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Then there's the interview...........

    The Beebs recent touchy-feely interview with Bill Gates underlines all of this. Questions were *allegedly* submitted by members of the public, but not one came near putting Bill 'on the spot'

    So we must be a nation of Microsoft lovers.

    The other possibility, that the BBC deliberately filtered the questions to give Bill an easy ride, couldn't be true, could it?

  35. Frank Bough
    Flame

    FFS

    "If you own a Mac, or choose Linux... fair play, that is your choice. But you need to understand that you are in a large minority, and as we still try to work around the principle of majority rule, you should expect to wait just a little longer while the majority is catered for. If you can't wait, the answer is simple... go use a PC in your local library to use the player. If you can't possibly bear to make that effort to solve your own problems, get a digital TV recorder."

    Tosser.

    The issue here is about STANDARDS, not Windows, Mac or ANY OTHER specific computer OS. Why doesn't the BBC just start broadcasting over Freeview in WIndows Media 9?

  36. Perry

    Pap

    As a non TV watching non licence payer I've had to put up with threatening letters from the Beeb for many years. I've now noticed that they've added "using a computer" to the list of activities that are Illegal without a TV licence. Is this because I now have the potential to watch their mind rotting pap via my broadband connection?

  37. Sam

    Harking back..

    "Pugh? Who? He talks spew, the public are diddled, and fucked!"

    The Trumpton Police riot gear, thanks...

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    @Nardak

    quote :

    IMHO Everything shown by the BBC is paid for and owned by the British Public. Let's be done with this IPlayer faff and just get the Beeb to make programs available to the Public on DivX filtered by IP origin.

    unqoute

    You are obviously stupid, please be quiet

    I think Nardak is Paris's alter ego

  39. Avi
    Happy

    Not quite the point...

    "why do the bbc have to provide for everyone, people complain that they can't get the service because they don't use windows, why not complain that you don't get the service because you don't have broadband or because you don't have computer, or complain that you can't watch TV because you don't own a television."

    If I don't have broadband and want the service, I can go and get broadband from any one of multiple providers. If I particularly dislike one of them, chances are there's one that I find amenable.

    If I have no TV, I'd be a fool to pay for a TV licence, and then wouldn't mind not watching TV.

    If they were only going to release it on one single system, why not pick the more interoperable and cheap one? If it's perfectly acceptable to tell people to change OSs in order to use this, surely it's more acceptable to make them change to a free one?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Amiable, open-minded ...

    "Mark Thompson and Mark Byford on the other hand are two amiable open minded chaps (and yes, I do know them both) who have the job of steering the BBC through major change and innovation in an uncharted sea where change is the only constant."

    Not open-minded enough to start off the project saying "Actually, it needs to be cross-platform". I'm not shedding any tears for them, considering they get paid a significant amount of cash to run a massive organisation - if they'd innovated enough in the first place to think "Oh yeah, maybe if we made it cross-plaform and didn't tie people into the ridiculous world of Kontiki, we'd have a better proposition."

    (Yes, I'm a Mac user. Yes, I have PC access. Yes, Kontiki sucks ass.)

  41. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  42. Mark

    Re: What's the alternative? & more

    The alternative is to save the files as MPEG2 files for download. In order to reduce the load on the BBC systems and on the UK network in general, these files could be BitTorrents that seed from the BBC.

    As Tom said (and I've said before), for those things the BBC cannot put out because of rights and restrictions, don't put it up. Let the recalcitrant owner pay for their own distribution (after, of course, paying the BBC for THEIR rights).

    The BBC spend MILLIONS on the iPlayer to make it work with MS technologies. Millions on top of the dropped Dirac player, which is far more effective for the BBC and cost ZERO in licensing fees. Millions and years. The flash player took weeks and thousands of pounds. Shows how expensive propriatory can be, doesn't it.

    Lastly, to Rob, who now has a VCR? Surely it's all Freeview digital and a DVR, where there is NO loss in quality beyond that already put in to squash the most bang out of the bandwidth.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ all the morons here

    The point being made is not that the BBC should *now* be implementing support for other platforms but that this support should have been there from the very beginning and that there was nothing to stop this from being the case. Was it technically feasible? Absolutely. Did the BBC choose to do it? No. Ergo the BBC is guilty of assisting MS in pushing their platform and proprietary formats to gain unfair market advantage. By tying their horse to MS during development, they prevented cross platform development from happening (and is it any surprise to know that two of the higher-ups in the iPlayer development outfit are former MS employees who self-evidently had an agenda to make sure that this is how things worked out?). It absolutely is not the role of the BBC to help support a company with known despicable ethics that has been convicted of such underhanded techniques in the past to do the exact same thing here. The BBC should be utterly ashamed of themselves for this iPlayer debacle.

  44. Mostor Astrakan
    Alert

    I'm getting slightly annoyed at...

    The Gates worshippers who keep reminding us that we Linux users are just a tiny little group. That may well be the case, but Microsoft has a long record of unfairly leveraging their advantages so that this continues to be so. That is why Microsoft is now enjoying the attention of the European Community's antitrust people. I don't see why Auntie Beeb should assist Microsoft in their efforts towards continued world domination by requiring users of advanced operating systems to downgrade to some rancid version of Windows.

    As for the content providers who insist on crippling their output with copy protection: They can always opt not to have their programs distributed by iPlayer. I'm sure the BBC can find plenty of material that is not so encumbered.

    The folks who insist that there is no working copy protection for Linux should realise that there is no working copy protection for Windows either. Remember the Sony gaffe with copy protection that a) contained more malware than a porn site and b) could be circumvented by blacking out part of the CD with a permanent marker. People who still think that there is such a thing as working copy protection are deluding themselves.

    There are many different file formats suitable for streaming video. The BBC would not have to build any software if they would simply use that, because software for viewing MP4, AVI or other video files already exist for Windows, Mac and Linux.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    "If you own a Mac, or choose Linux... fair play, that is your choice. But you need to understand that you are in a large minority, and as we still try to work around the principle of majority rule"

    Linux/Mac users are pay the same license fee as everyone else, and are no longer an insignificant minority in terms of personal computer users.

    This is not about 'majority rule', its about the BBC pandering to a monopoly software vendor when it need not necessarily have done so. It would have been technically possible to create a cross-platform iPlayer had the Beeb specified this as a requirement, but blinkered thinking still thinks of personal computers as running Windows. As long as companies continue to think short sightedly like this, Innovation in non-Windows platforms will continue to be stifled.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    Pugh for PM

    "John Pugh is my local MP and he is a complete tit." John Pugh is also my local MP and he is one of the very few politicians that I have ever met who understands the technical and competitive issues at stake and who does actually know something about software. For the record he is not anti ms but he is pro competition also in his choice of computing he is agnostic - I believe his home network comprises a windows, linux and mac os computer.

  47. Chris Miller

    BBC Quality (@Matt)

    Has the quality of BBC programmes deteriorated significantly over the past 20 years? Of course it has and the rot of dumbing down should be stopped as soon as possible.

    Is the quality still the best in the world? Of course it is. I recently enjoyed a fortnight's holiday near Strasbourg with easy access to French, German, Swiss and Italian TV. Virtually nothing worth watching on any of them (and what was worth watching was mainly US films). Fortunately our hotel had Internet access, so I could download a regular fix of 'In Our Time' (line speeds too low for iPlayer, sadly).

  48. Matt
    IT Angle

    @Jeremy: "It isn't about pandering to MS..."

    ... Windows XP might currently be the largest installed base of desktop computers, but it is currently coming to its end of life. Microsoft are trying very hard to get people to use Vista instead (despite a large amount of unpopularity), and Vista itself currently has a tiny fraction of market share.

    So the only supported OSes are:

    * XP 32 bit with SP2 which is end of life

    * Vista 32 bit, which currently has nearly no market share, and it is not clear that it eventually will have the largest market share for this purpose (I would expect largest market share would be for set top boxes / DVRs-- which pretty well all run some derivative of Linux or BSD)

    One suspects that a standards based approach would have been more cost effective and future proof for the BBC, even if they have to push some of the standards themselves (e.g. MP4 supports DRM, if not right now in the exact way the BBC required).

    PS @James Bryant "Why?": Your analogy is erroneous. Should I choose to get broadband, I can get it from several suppliers and choose the best one for my purpose. If I want to use iPlayer my choice is limited to MS.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    RE

    "The alternative is to save the files as MPEG2 files for download. In order to reduce the load on the BBC systems and on the UK network in general, these files could be BitTorrents that seed from the BBC.

    As Tom said (and I've said before), for those things the BBC cannot put out because of rights and restrictions, don't put it up. Let the recalcitrant owner pay for their own distribution (after, of course, paying the BBC for THEIR rights)."

    That's already done - rights block 99.999% of programmes. The rest are already podcasted.

  50. Jeff Davies
    Go

    Democracy TV

    I imagine anyone (such as myself) can download the streams using DemocracyTV,or one of the other stream savers.

    Obviously the BBC wouldn't want this, but then they shouldn't screw up in this way.

    The guy at the top here would have expected this result, and if he didn't, they he's an idiot. By making the service WindowsXP only, he's ensured people will save the streams, and you can guarantee people will then share the saved streams.

  51. Edward Rose

    Missed point

    The point here is that there is an alternative to the MS DRM. They didn't want to look for it. They should _have_ looked.

    They should have considered that there are other systems out there and looked at keeping things more 'open'. I'm all for DRM on this stuff, it's an added bonus (the stuff, not the DRM). And, I'd bet that another company could produce a DRM system cheaper than the BBC is currently paying MS (although MS would have made a lower offer then).

    AFAIAC the download system is sufficient to provide a cross platform solution, even if the MS users can have the download one too. As long as the content is the same. Spank the directors for bad decision making at the start (it would be nice if they comply with the Trust's decision, if a cheap method becomes available, do it, make it available for us *nix users etc).

  52. Mark

    rights block 99.999% of programmes

    So why did we need iPlayer then?

  53. Test Man
    Thumb Down

    So what about the streams?

    It's amazing the amount of people here who complain about some sort of perceived Microsoft bias based on the iPlayer using Microsoft's proprietary technology, but aren't complaining about the streaming part of iPlayer, which uses Adobe's Flash, funnily enough proprietary technology! The BBC has to use technology from somewhere. Fact is, Microsoft's technology is widespread so why not use that now and continue to develop technology for other systems? Why delay the whole thing just to satisfy the (minute) minority?

  54. Ian Rowe
    Gates Horns

    Misconception

    Some people seem a bit confused (or blind) over why it is a bad idea to cater only for the market leader.

    Scenario:

    Microsoft is the market leader.

    Companies refuse to develop for anyone else for one or more of many reasons: They are unaware of the alternatives. They are lazy. They cannot justify the cost of development.

    Microsoft continues to grow, milking its market share for all its worth with no incentive to innovate. Development time at Microsoft is spent designing new looks for an old product and releasing it as a new version. Everyone buys the new version because Microsoft stop support for the old version. Microsoft gradually switches to a rental system on the basis that you are giving them money annually anyway so lets skip the formalities. Don't like it? Sorry, but the only competition Microsoft has left in the software market are the anti-virus companies.

    A bit overstated yes, but the point is Microsoft is a capitalist company. They have one goal. Capitalism only works (and I hate to use that word anywhere near capitalism) if there is competition. Some people might not mind that their computer 20 years down the line is still largely being used for excel so you can calculate how much you owe Microsoft.. personally I'd like to see what 20 years of innovation from people who aren't Microsoft's logo department will bring.

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of cobblers!

    Unless Mr Pugh can should that a significant number of people are buying Windows computers rather than something else for no other reason than that they want to use the BBC iPlayer, then Microsoft hasn't been aided in any way at all.

  56. BoldMan
    Alert

    Excuse me?

    So this is the same government whose websites FORCE me to use MS Internet Exploder instead of Firefox?

    Pot meet Kettle!

  57. Billy Goat Gruff

    The Sony PAL argument

    "I feel your example of a Sony TV is a poor one (actually childish is closer to my opinion). How about the BBC are hindering accessability as they insist on using PAL rather than NTSC. "

    If the BBC insisted we used a standard like PAL then I wouldn't really have a problem. Any TV manufacturer can adopt the standard, make TV sets, and I can buy one. It doesn't have to be a Sony one.

    If the BBC hired some Sony guys and then adopted a HD Freeview format that required we used a Sony protocol that was only licensed to Sony machines then I'd have to buy a Sony TV set.

    If the BBC said that the most popular TV set was Sony and it would work without them having to buy a new set, it would be nice for them, but it would force everyone else to buy a Sony as well.

    When I decide to get a new set, guess what, I shall get a Sony. It may well be that other makes are no longer in the shops - after all, who'd want them when the BBC go HD digital?

    Thus, Sony corner the entire UK market.

    But a few OpenSourceSet users say 'hey, our sets are better than Sony's overpriced ones' and the BBC say that they are too unpopular. And the Sony TV owners say 'stop whinging, get a Sony'.

    And the Sony users would have missed the point *again*. If they used the OpenSourceSet then Sony users would still have HD freeview. Along with Toshiba, and Sanyo and Bush and Goodmans... everyone would have HD Freeview. No new TVs needed. No need to pay Sony anything.

    So, why didn't the BBC use OpenSourceSet? Because they desperately wanted a Sony solution. The executives had come from Sony, after all.

    By allowing Linux, or Mac, to work in the beginning they are not making it more difficult for Windows users, they are making it easier.

    For instance, ACER might do their fast-bootup PC that goes direct into iPlayer, or you might watch iplayer on your ipaq/HTC, or in your google android device. Windows users don't lose out, they get the benefits along with everyone else.

    Of course, the BBC don't need to write iplayer for the iPaq and your TVFridge, they just need to adopt the standard and anyone can write their own iplayer. The BBC *save* money as the iplayer is improved - speeded up, less resources, different qualities, downloads at off-peak times etc. And just like Firefox, Windows users benefit from free programs that work on everything.

    And DRM? Can DRM exist outside of Windows? Of course it can, only it'd be safer. Why hasn't it been done? It probably has, only we're not aware of it because of the chicken/egg situation.

    Personally, I wish the MS apologists would wake up and realise the potential of a world where things work on non-MS approved hardware.. and help do their bit by not apologising for everything that is *designed* to lock us into the shoddy MS world.

  58. Rob Crawford

    Re : Please, at least read comments before posting responses to them

    >> @ Michael : you are a linux devotee, I'm sorry to hear that, j

    >Hmm...I think you should read (a) again and reassess how seriously you think that part of my comment was? Life long. Think about it.

    I did, otherwise I would have passed a comment like, you must be one of the younger users on the site. I worry about anybody who describes themselves as a devotee of an app programming language or OS (I used to be like that but family life soon knocked that out of me).

    Having used Linux since about 95, I find it does about 90% of what I want to do, but considerably less for what I HAVE to do (christ I'm connected to a VME command prompt ATM), I probably know more know more than most linux users.

    >> What is the critical mass of devotees before the BBC has to support your platform of choice.

    Personally I find that a valid question, what percentage of users does an OS require before Auntie must cater for them ?

    >On second thoughts, given this, you clearly didn't read anything that I wrote at all. Instead it's clear that you decided what I wrote [which you actually got completely arse about face] from reading only the first 4 words. Nevermind.

    > I'm thinking of a word that describes you but it certainly isn't "pragmatic" :)

    Hey I have enough scars from the OS wars from yesteryear to survive a bit of name calling. Yeah cheeky and rude can certainly apply (on occasion) partially as this thread has been replayed more often than the xmas Dr Who episode over the last 6 months (reminds me of Groundhog Day actually)

    It's a tiresome subject as no matter what the BBC do theyre damned (hey possibly it may be the basis of the xmas 08 Dr Who special), if the unleash their own codec and the masses have a problem, theyre ignoring their core audience, if they cater for a masses theyre in the pay of M$.

    For the record I don't agree with DRM (it dosn't work), I don't like windows ir MS but it's the platform of the masses and thats who the BBC have to cater for first and foremost.

    The non M$ users will have to fend for themselves for a while longer, atleast theyre the group most equipped to find a method of creating a workaround.

    My kids parents for the most part wouldn't stand a chance of working out any issues should a codec or BBC created app go frankenstein.

    PS I probably was a bit aggressive

  59. Simon Ward
    Black Helicopters

    Re: iPlayer, DRM, and codecs

    "I heard (via the grapevine of someone that used to work at the BBC) that they DID have a DRM and codec alternative developed in house that worked under multiple platforms. It was (apparently) quite a clean solution that they were getting ready to opensource as well."

    They did.

    Dirac (the codec) and the Schroedinger Project (the whole DRM thing) - google for it. Quite informative in its own way, but effectively killed off by the crippling bureaucracy that can only come from either the BBC or government departments.

  60. Red Bren
    Pirate

    "Catering for the majority"

    IIRC, the BBC's remit is to broadcast to EVERYONE and specifically ensure minorities are catered for, both in terms of content and delivery. Hence there is still some decent programming for current affairs, science, the arts or real niche interests like farming and religion. Late night repeats are often shown with sign language. How many commercial channels provide all this?

    From the start, the BBC should have used an open format, compatible with any platform that someone with the know how can build a player or plug-in for. Not just for Windows/Mac/Linux, but Xbox, PS3, Wii, PSP, Wii, mobile phones or any other media capable device.

    If the rights-holders don't like it, they don't have to sell to the Beeb, but they might find themselves losing more revenue by being too picky about their customers!

  61. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    To all the anti-corporate lot

    All of you shouting about 'Evil Corporations'

    Example:

    'Microsoft has a long record of unfairly leveraging their advantages so that this continues to be so'

    Newsflash: The BBC IS a corporation.

    Ever purchased or had services from any of the following companies:

    Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Sony, Phillips, HP, Aiwa, Virgin, Sky, ITV, IBM, Sega, Nintendo, Acer, Panasonic, LG, Ford, Fiat, the list goes on and on

    All of these are corporates. Every corporate in existence has at some point or continues to do so uses dirty tricks, bully boy tactics and industrial espionage to get where they are. Every last one of them. They DO NOT get to be so big by playing nice. Regardless of how you feel about that it is the way of business. You may not like how MS throw their weight around, but they really are no different from any other corporation.

    For all the people who think these corporations should be dismantled because of the tactics they use.

    Many of the devices that sit in the system you are now using to read this have been researched and developed by corporations. The fact is the R&D is an expensive business costing millions in whatever the local currency is. It is done solely to make a profit from the end product and the corporates will push it in any way they can.

    Technology is now so complex, that the days of individuals sitting in a garage or bedroom with parts from radio shack and coming up with a revolutionary new product are long gone. With only a few exceptions, most innovation and new technology is created by these 'evil' multi billion dollar companies. Hobbyists just don't cut it anymore. That even goes for linux which is why a large number of linux companies are going the corporate route because they know it is the only way to survive.

    So it doesn't matter now how MS got majority market share, the fact is they have got it and it is public money being spent on the iplayer. Being publicly funded is the number one reason to start of by catering for the majority share otherwise they would be accused of wasting it, and enough has been wasted on this project as it is. The same principle stands for a private company as they would be aiming to get as many customers as quickly as possible with their product. Only then do you start porting it to the smaller players in the market, which the BBC have promised to do.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Other changes to the BBC website that no one mentions

    I have my browser set to wipe cookies on exit. This means that the first time I try to watch a video on the BBC news site each day I get that page prompting me to choose between Windows Media Player or Real Media formats. This has always defaulted to Real, but a couple of months ago, when the iPlayer was being talked up, this default setting changed to WMP.

    Also, the Real videos used to play automatically but at the same time this changed so that I have to click the start button on the player (Real Alternative - has worked perfectly on the BBC site for years) to begin. Furthermore, some videos simply don't play for me, no matter what my Javascript, firewall, cookies or other settings are. This never used to happen.

    It's funny how they've slyly changed the default media format to WMP because it was only a couple of years ago they were complaining about the licensing costs involved in implementing WMP streams and would only use it on some files. Now I'm guessing these changes have something to do with the close partnering that brought us the iPlayer.

  63. Quirkafleeg
    Linux

    i386 plugins on amd64

    http://gwenole.beauchesne.info/en/projects/nspluginwrapper

    … which is packaged for various Linux distributions, e.g. Debian:

    http://packages.debian.org/nspluginwrapper

  64. Stephen B Streater

    Irony

    The BBC decision making process on the iPlayer is verging on scandalous. Why the BBC should suddenly insist on encrypting their material in a way which requires consumers to pay out cash to a third party is a mystery which should be investigated further. For those who haven't seen it, here is the FSF take on the matter: http://clesh.com/videos/view/BBCiPlay-1197646800.can/

    I enjoyed clicking on the article video link. Ironically, it says "Cannot find Windows plug in".

  65. This post has been deleted by its author

  66. Mark
    Gates Halo

    The BBC's Billophillia

    If you don't think the BBC is fawning over MS, take a look at the recent Bill Gade advertisements, sorry, blog postings on the BBC News Technology pages.

    His Billness's first blog was a load of tripe but the feedback was all "Bill, you've done more than anyone else to bring powerful and innovative computing to the masses" and "you are the modern day saint with all the money you give to charity".

    Sickening.

    The Billocks he posted later wasn't much better.

    Icon selected for ironic uses...

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the majority dont need this so called service

    "As a license payer, I fully support the notion that my money should be spent on catering for the majority instead of pandering to a very small bunch of whinging sods with big mouths."

    I'm with you. The vast majority aren't watching on computers and won't be watching on them any time soon. Its time to stop wasting money on the internet minority and give Jonathon Ross another couple of million for us TV users to enjoy.

    The whole internet streaming has a lot more to do with making damn sure no-one can evade the licence tax than providing a service. They shoved it onto satellite to stop anyone claiming they shouldn't pay for something they weren't getting. Now you don't even need a TV to get encumbered.

  68. Gerry

    So it's all about DRM, then?

    And how good has that DRM got to be?

    The smallest amount of research reveals at least two open source DRM solutions.

    openipmp http://sourceforge.net/projects/openipmp

    DreaM https://dream.dev.java.net/

    I hasten to add that I've got no idea if they are any good (let's hope we get more than security by obscurity riposting to that) but does it matter? Lets see what Ashley Highfield, (y'know one of the main men in the iPlayer team...), says:

    “...he replied that he downloaded programmes through BBC iPlayer, stripped the DRM (hence his anonymity!), re-encoded the file, burned it to DVD from his PC, then took it to his DVD player connected to his TV in the lounge...”

    helpfully posted on the BBC website, in case anyone didn't know where to look:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2008/01/ip_to_tv_how.html

    So, there we are , Ashely Highfield lets us know that he knows that we know that Microsoft DRM is about as much use as a chocolate teapot in meeting its stated objective.

    I find myself speculating whether this just post-modern irony, or cynicism from someone who has track record on talking up Microsoft and dismissing alternatives.

    I know that I can use a Dirac (BBC developed and GPL v3 compatible) codec enabled media player on my computer (apart from the absence of content....)

    http://packman.links2linux.org/package/dirac - apparently still under active development

    I'm sorry that I need to identify myself as a Linux user, because that isn't the point.

    Neither is it about the 80% of users that currently use Windows, it's about the BBC making the issue of choice more difficult by using solutions that it knows not to meet their stated objective, and promoting one technology at the expense of others.

    If the BBC has delivered using Dirac, it would have been cheaper, and not have mattered that 80% of the population seem to prefer the streaming version over the BBC's favourite option. I do not know if Dirac could have been used to develop a streaming version too, but given the unencumbered nature of Dirac, it is perfectly imaginable.

    This would have solved the concerns of the 64-bit Vista user, who posted here, too.

    Probably unlike most people here, I also read quite carefully the Court of First Instance decision, 17 September, 2007 on interoperability and tying, para 1152 (to save you the trouble):

    "...Although, generally, standardisation may effectively present advantages, it cannot be allowed to be imposed unilaterally by an undertaking in a dominant position by means of tying"

  69. Frank Bough
    Alert

    @Rob Crawford

    "It's a tiresome subject as no matter what the BBC do theyre damned"

    And who, exactly, would damn the BBC for choosing an MPEG4 streaming solution? As things stand they've, in effect, chosen a Flash streaming solution. How much money have the BBC pissed up the wall avoiding using MPEG. You know MPEG, right, it's the same group of standards that THEY USE FOR ALL OF THEIR OTHER DIGITAL BROADCASTING SYSTEMS.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The reason Microsoft is such a unique success

    must have something to do with the way the company seems to tap into some sort of false cynicism so evident in about a half of the posts here asking why the sad <OSX/linux/Amiga/take a pick> minority should be pampered when 99% are happy with the Windows client.

    People: Market economy only works for _you_ if you not only choose stuff you buy carefully basing your decisions on merit and not on what you think your neighbour is buying but also add in a bit of an additional bias _against_ the incumbent. You read that right - if someone has more than 50 percent of a market then don't buy them anymore. They're probably not working very hard anymore - because they're rational agents and they know they don't have to. Market economy will continue to work if you fail in this (we're witnessing this in more areas than I care to count) but it will not be working for _you_ anymore (unless you own large chunks of the incumbent companies). No matter how warm and fuzzy you feel for using or "owning" a piece of technology produced by the market leader.

    This is what I believe the iPlayer critics are talking about. It's not about majority and minority or equal access or hate of capitalism. They just hate the idea that a public company is wasting their money (in the long term) by failing to grasp the basics of market economy. I know I would.

  71. Ivan Headache

    @ Bit Fiddler

    I've notice the change too - I've also noticed that the links to the realplayer download site from the player help section are more difficult to follow.

    I think we're all agreeds that DRM is a total waste of time and resources. What they don't appear to realise (any of them - the Beeb, the makers, the rights holders etc) is that "If you can see it on your computer screen you can keep it" DRM be damned.

    And for those shouting down the linux/mac brigade - why are you doing it? It's supposed to be about equality NOT market share.

    Anyway, I don't think that the minority is quite as small as some posters seem to think. I can't say that I know any domestic linux users but I know hundreds of Mac users (it's my job). We all know that Windows PCs outsell everything on the planet - but most - (I would guess 60% or more) go into offices and commercial centres to replace obsolete kit. I would guess that over 60% of Macs, (which are selling in ever greater numbers) on the other hand are going into homes - and not in single units either (in many cases to replace Windows units). And where do people watch TV? In their homes NOT in the call centre when they are supposed to be sorting out insurance claims or delivering groceries.

    And to the poster who complained about Flash being proprietary, well yes it is, but on the other hand it's cross-platform (although linux users are left out still).

  72. Alan Barnard

    It's the Internet

    When the BBC makes its programmes available on a dvd, it adheres to dvd standards; when it makes its programmes available via analogue TV, it adheres to analogue TV standards; similarly with digital broadcasts. There is no question of having to buy a particular manufacturer's product; anyone who wants to make the equipment to view the programmes, can access the specification and (after maybe having to pay some licence fee) go into business making it. Thus the viewer not only has a choice of equipment supplier but, using that same equipment, has a choice of content supplier.

    The BBC is claiming to make its programmes available via the Internet. But in order for anyone to view them - they are expected to buy a product from a particular supplier. And even then - they are limited to a single content supplier.

    The Internet has its own standards, the BBC has to adhere to these standards to get the programme to its destination. Now these standards are available to all and can be implemented on any operating system. Whether you are using a Windows PC or a mobile phone is irrelevant - thus the argument about the relative proportions of Linux users is beside the point.

    The BBC, having adhered to all the appropriate standards up to the point where the content is inside the viewer's computer, now attempts to add a completely non-standard layer to the process. It does not use a technology that is available to all, either at no charge or for a reasonable fee, but one that is dependent upon buying a particular supplier's product - not even a product for just simply viewing the programmes, but a complete computer operating system (and priced accordingly).

    Some would argue that DRM is wrong, others that DRM is unworkable, others would point out that the programmes have been broadcast already - but notwithstanding all that, the BBC method of implementing it is fundamentally wrong.

  73. Steven Raith
    Stop

    Licensing issues?

    "The whole internet streaming has a lot more to do with making damn sure no-one can evade the licence tax than providing a service. They shoved it onto satellite to stop anyone claiming they shouldn't pay for something they weren't getting. Now you don't even need a TV to get encumbered."

    Hmm. I'll have to have a look at the TV License Ts+Cs - I don't own a telly, nor anything that can receive TV signals [I have a USB Freeview adapter, but it don't work on Ubuntu, so can't receive signals - thus is exempt] so it would be interesting to see if they try to change the Ts+Cs to get anyone who has a broadband connection.

    That's one hell of a conspiracy theory my man.

    I have no time for telly [the only things I used to watch were Top Gear, Newsnight and the C4 news anyway] so I fail to see why my hard earned cash should fund Strictly Come Birdwatching Brother Celebrity Edition, or whatever shite the BBC is coming up with next.

    The easiest way to blow a hole in your idea, of course, is to have a box entitled 'please enter your TV License number here' in the iPlayer app and on the flash streaming page. That way you lot can watch Strictly Come Birdwatching Brother Celebrity Edition, and I can read a good book with the money I have saved. Or just get wrecked on spirits listening to grunge, which is far more likely.

    Steven R

    PS: I watched the gogglebox for the first time in about 18months while crashing at my brothers place at Chrimble - and decided that although I had the hard cash for a 21" telly for my flat, that it really wasn't worth it. I bought my bro about a weeks worth of booze and drank it all myself instead, because I'm nice like that.

  74. Chris
    Go

    re: To all the anti-corporate lot

    "All of you shouting about 'Evil Corporations'

    Example:

    'Microsoft has a long record of unfairly leveraging their advantages so that this continues to be so'"

    Eh? No-one here is bashing corporations per se. Only one corporation the BBC is being bashed as they should have produced a standards compliant implementation which is not tied to a particular bit of hardware or software.

    Just like how they broadcast in PAL and NICAM stereo. Any manufacturer can make PAL/NICAM *compatible* hardware. In fact NICAM is a great example as NICAM was a standard developed by the BBC when there wasn't any. It's a shame their dirac project was shelved following cuts as that would have lead the way for all broadcasters if it worked.

  75. James Condron
    Linux

    Licence Fee

    If (as a non-tv owning student) i choose to watch these programs online with no tv licence, am I breaking the law? Questions such as this should be addressed before the OS issues. That being said, as a Linux user its very easy to say the BBC should be providing this service to fit my OS, just as it is easy for an MS user to not care because it works for them.

    This system, because you need no proof of tv licence to view, is surely outside of the tv licence remit, and, if not covered by this, then the iPlayer is (to borrow a phrase from parents, clergy, teachers and self important arseholes) a privelage, not a right.

    The best way for the BBC to sort this would, clearly, to use an open codec or just use a bit of flash, as per youtube etc. The fact the BBC is using stuff which is platform dependant is more a comment on the developer staff, and the deadline than anything.

    That, and they wanted a pretty looking thing that would be liked by the higher-ups

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Linux

    Why is there no

    British made operating system.

  77. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  78. Alexander Hanff

    re: Quirkafleeg

    Yeah I know all about ndiswrapper and I know it currently doesn't work from the Ubuntu repositories with the Adobe Flash plugin. Yes I could fiddle around with it a bit and probably get it working but I have 2 issues with that:

    1. WTH should I have to install 32bit applications in a wrapper that don't work without some major fiddling just because Adobe are a bunch of tits and for no justifiable reason refuse to release a 64Bit plugin? The chap who produces Gnash (a open source alternative to Flash) is rumoured to have approached Adobe to write it for them and they told him to go away. There is no logic in refusing to support new technologies which are pretty much the default architecture for all new PCs (most new PCs come with 64bit CPUs).

    2. The BBC should not have used Flash in the first place as it too is a proprietary application which is JUST as bad as them restricting the iPlayer download service to Windows XP and some other Windows OS that anyone with half a brain would never buy, I forget it's name but I believe I means something like an avenue or road usually flanked by tress on each side. Which is actually a good analogy for said POS OS as once you install it you can't see the fsckin woods for the trees. (There is so much shit dumped into V***A it isn't an OS anymore it is a Managed Content Vending Suite.

    And to all you MS fanboys out there who think Linux users are insignificant, go take a flying fsck at a rolling doughnut; you self righteous, arrogant, ignorant pricks.

  79. Stephen B Streater
    Thumb Up

    British OS

    How about Symbian? And there are more mobiles than PCs!

  80. Andy Worth

    Re:British Made Operating System

    Because if it was anything like the British car, it'd be designed and built by a guy named Fred in a garden shed in Doncaster on a 20 year old PC and the unions would prevent it from ever being released by constantly interfering. :)

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    its all about monopoly

    Several people are still discussing this story as if it its about the i-player on windows without perhaps fully appreciating that the point made by Dr Pugh was that its not about about Windows or Linux or Mac or any another OS for that matter. His clear unambiguous point is that the BEEB as a PUBLICLY Funded Corporation should not be favoring a convicted monopolist using tax payers money. He is consistent on this charge having made it on the 9th Oct 2007 in relation to Gov web sites for tax collection. Some people have referenced other cases where the BEEB has favoured one company over another but MS is special. Its a monopoly and the consensus amongst economists is that monopolies are bad because they charge higher prices and they work to maintain their monopoly by engaging in anti competitive tactics that are bad for the market. But luckily its not just the Lib Dems who are concerned - the European Commission are equally worried and yesterday they launched another major enquiry into MS and its anti competitive practices.

    So this is an age old story, and its a simple story its all about a monopolist working to maintain its monopoly and for those of you who don't agree then answer the following question - is the price MS charges Joe Blogs on the high street in any way connected to the maintenance of its monopoly and if not then how in a competitive marketplace the cost MS charge for its os and office productivity software - is more that the entire £160 quid cost of the Asus Eee PC and that includes the hardware, the OS and a full Office Productivity suite. This story is about monopoly pure and simple and it affects all of us who pay taxes, i-player users or not and that BTW does not include Sir Bill unless of course his "contributions" are being taxed.

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm071009/halltext/71009h0008.htm

  82. Rob Crawford

    @Michael

    @Michael

    I indeed owe you an apology as at the end of a double shift (and a couple of additional hours waiting for clearence on a fault) I managed to merge 2 or 3 comments into one (and attribute them to you). I was badly off track (plus somebody stole my crack pipe), and wish I could blame it on drunken ramblings

    However (theres aways one) due to the Groundhog Day nature of this thread some of the questions I have been wondering about for quite some time.

    Frank Bough,

    Unfortunitly the owners of the programmes would damn the bbc for streaming MPEG4 across the internet. Without content the player would be of no earthly purpose to anybody.

    It's a waste and shame that the BBC produced their own (apparently clean) streaming (and for expedience DRM equipped) system, and then had to abandon it.

    I'm sure there was questions asked along the lines of :

    Why did you write such a system when there is already existing ones already in existence

    Why are you paying these developers and researchers when you could buy a ready made one and save R&D money

    Can you prove that it will be better (read cheaper) than the already available options ?

    I'm also sure that it was somebody employed by HM goverment was doing the asking, as the UK goverment has actively discouraged R&D in the UK for decades. They would much rather have the UK economy based on banking and the service industry.

    The BBC are always asked to cut costs, hence the number of repeats, outside productions, outsourced IT, dumbed down science programmes, no doubt it was easier be seen (by accountants) as cutting costs by buying in the product from M$. Hence I believe that the BBC are damned no matter what route they choose

    I know the option I would prefer, no OS / browser / plugin / DRM / time restrictions but that ain't going to happen in the short term. Until some form of viable service (with outside producers onboard) for the mainstream internet user turns up there will be nothing worth viewing.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE:

    Seriously, it's this simple.

    The BBC do not own the rights to *any* in house or external programme that allows them to distribute it on a permanent basis without charging extra (say £3 per programme). They cannot go without those rights, because that would result in two years of dead air, and I think we all know that would result in no more BBC. The rights holders/rights unions are collectively are much, much more powerful that the BBC because they are cross media organisations with a turnover of many times that of the BBC. Hence the BBC must use some form of DRM that supports 7 day timeouts, and that is acceptably reliable to those rights holders (which doesn't mean unbreakable, but enough for the majority of rights holders).

    It is either DRM that supports seven day timeouts or no service at all. It is really, genuinely that simple.

    Look around for a DRM to buy, and the only one that has 7 day timeouts is Microsofts. The BBC asked Apple if they'd put it in Fairplay and Apple said they weren't interested unless they were allowed to charge for the programming. MSDRM is the only solution.

    It's useless crying out about "open standards" because there aren't any, and frankly the more you open up DRM standards inevitably the less useful it becomes. The BBC also then becomes legally liable to rights holders for patching any holes, unlike if they buy a system off the shelf in which case they can be legally shown to have made their best efforts.

  84. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Success Story

    Oh come on, it's such a success!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7187967.stm

  85. TeeCee Gold badge
    Happy

    ...and the answer is?

    "And, I'd bet that another company could produce a DRM system cheaper than the BBC is currently paying MS"

    IIRC the last company to take that approach to the problem was Sony..........

    As for the "standards" argument, name a "standard" for streams / downloads with DRM. Ah, *there's* yer problem. The whole point of a standard is that there should be *one* of it. Problem here is that everyone's got their favourite. They're more opinions than standards. The BBC's gone for the MS version. Whatever they chose was going to piss someone off, they went for pissing off a vocal minority rather than the silent majority. This is actually quite a brave move, most publicly funded organsiations go for the "quietest life" option.

    Don't get me wrong, it's a right, royal pig's ear. Then again, I don't know what the answer is and, reading this little lot, it appears that neither does anyone else around here.

  86. Mo

    @Anonymous Coward

    "Funny how Pugh at no point suggests a solution to the DRM issue that would actually work, isn't it?"

    The solution to the DRM issue is to distribute the videos without any. You can already download distinctly higher-quality versions of them through less legal means if you want to *today*, so the protectionism argument is moot.

    The BBC knew this was coming a long time ago, and have had years to plan for it and negotiate contracts appropriately.

    Right NOW I can receive unencrypted, comparatively high-quality versions of all of the programmes distributed via the iPlayer, record them to my own media, transcode them and watch them on my iPod, or keep them in a drawer for months on end to dig out at Christmas for some light entertainment. Using equipment purchased from Currys. The iPlayer DRM doesn't actually prevent that, and it's very unlikely that anything the BBC does in the next decade will either. People who have the intent of distributing the content on newsgroups and BitTorrent sites have no need for the iPlayer, so the DRM angle is worthless.

    Now, if the iPlayer's videos were comparable to the illegal downloads (high quality, open standards [e.g., H.264/AAC], easily accessible across a range of platforms), then it'd massively reduce the demand for the illegal distribution of BBC content, to the point where it wouldn't be worth anybody's while bothering, save for distribution to people outside of the UK (which people have been doing for years, so it makes little odds)

    Even with a 10-15 second ad at the start/end, very few people would bother seeking out illicitly-distributed versions if the iPlayer downloads were otherwise equivalent or higher-quality.

  87. Martin Baines
    Thumb Down

    It only takes one cow....

    ... push open the gate.

    "Even with a 10-15 second ad at the start/end, very few people would bother seeking out illicitly-distributed versions if the iPlayer downloads were otherwise equivalent or higher-quality" but if even just one of the people who downloaded this unprotected material copied it outside the BBC's licence for it the BBC could be held liable for all the copyright holders loss. At which point no doubt the same people who whine about DRM now would be complaining about the loss of licence payers money to settle the damages awarded by a US court.

    No one likes DRM in use but without it being written into contracts it's pretty unlikely a lot of TV material would be licensed for online access to the BBC (or any other broadcaster for that matter).

  88. Frank Bough
    Alert

    Logic Bomb?

    "Frank Bough,

    Unfortunitly the owners of the programmes would damn the bbc for streaming MPEG4 across the internet. Without content the player would be of no earthly purpose to anybody."

    What?? If I chip over to the iPlayer site I get a streaming Flash movie. Where's the DRM here? In what sense is that a BETTER solution to MPEG4? The Kontiki system (that WAS bought in, despite your assertions) is a FAILURE - the present and future of "iPlayer" is streaming (Flash, probably). If and when you finally adopt h.264 video encoding in the Flash streams, we will then have a poor, proprietary version of what we should have had in the first place - streaming MPEG4. The DRM issue is a total red herring, with 80% of viewers using the craptastic Flash streams. To coin a phrase, please wake up and smell what you're shoveling.

    It's so sad it's unbelievable. Are these the same morons who are working on the NHS IT 'upgrade' by any chance?

  89. Steven Raith

    RE: RE: British operating system

    "Because if it was anything like the British car, it'd be designed and built by a guy named Fred in a garden shed in Doncaster on a 20 year old PC and the unions would prevent it from ever being released by constantly interfering."

    You forgot the half eaten sandwich down beside the heater matrix, as was rumoured to have been found on a Rover 200 that had odd smells when the fans were turned on.

    Other than that, I concur entirely.

    Steven R

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    DRM is stupid

    Why do the downloads have to have DRM on them, when they broadcast their programmes from their tv transmitters in full broadcast quality to the whole entire nation for free! It's totally stupid, anyone can record it onto a dvd recorder and keep it for years - no DRM. So why does the BBC need DRM all of a sudden for the BBCi Player? If i wanted to 'pirate' a programme, I would just DVD record /Sky+ it. It wouldn't surprise me if they got a back hander from Microsoft in order to promote their stupid DRM software.

    This is all about lining the pockets of wealthy American coporate fat cats. Boo Hiss.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    BBC is Biased

    The BBC are biased in favour of Microsoft. They did Money Programmes hyping up the release of the XBox360, but no similar prog hyping the release of the Playstation3. Have you noticed how much free advertising they give Facebook? You know that Microsoft own a stake in Facebook, don't you? Now how much free advertising do they give other websites like Friends Reunited? They don't give any, that's because Friends Reunited is owned by ITV and the BBC don't want to give publicity for websites owned by its rivals now, do they? Best to give all the hype to companies linked with Microsoft.

    The BBC are biased and corrupt and can't be trusted read this site:

    http://biased-bbc.blogspot.com

  92. Rob Crawford

    Flash aaha savour of the universe

    Most people with half a brain (or less) know that streams are easily downloaded (I prefer the term archived). Project managers and IT staff in my last employer (a large media group) where shocked that I could capture streams. "But we thought streams where safe from copying" so why would programme producers and accountants be any differerent.

    The people weare talking about media types, accountants, legal bods and people who think the public need more cookery programmes. If the flash stream is removed after 7 days availability then as far as they are concerned the content has expired, and is gone forever.

    Why is a file on the internet differnt from a captured freeview stream ?

    Because even media types, can click a download link, but to copy from a HD recorder to a computer and then onto the internet is strange arcane knowledge that few people have (from their viewpoint)

    Yeah stupid but true, it's a pigs ear of a system, why did the flash system turn up, because kontiki was shit and people didn't use it. It wasn't open source advocates, or mac users. Cold hard visitor numbers did it.

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE@

    "What?? If I chip over to the iPlayer site I get a streaming Flash movie. Where's the DRM here?"

    Actually there's quite considerable DRM built into iPlayers Flash, which I don't think anyone has successfully downloaded yet.

    Adobe are doing an awful lot of work building more DRM into Flash streaming too, which will be used on iPlayer and Hulu to make downloading much more difficult that it is from YouTube...

  94. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Just a legal point

    You CANNOT 'just record something from TV and then keep it forever'. Legally, you are only allowed to keep that recording for up to 30 days. After that you are supposed to tape over/delete it. If you want to keep it forever you are supposed to buy the VHS/DVD release. It's just that no-one to my knowledge has ever been prosecuted because the law is practically unenforceable.

  95. Tim Cox

    Apple has DRM!

    Didn't Apple just launch a movie download service with DRM? Kind of blows a big hole in their No-DRM-on-Apple argument, doesn't it?

  96. Mark Etherton

    Verbatim transcript of the session

    Just in case anyone's interested, the transcript of the evidence session is available on the PAC website: either www.parliament.uk/pac and follow the link through reports and publications to uncorrected evidence, or at http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200708/cmselect/cmpubacc/uc221-i/uc22102.htm John Pugh's questions are at qq 21-26 and Mark Thompson's correction of his earlier statement is at q139. I mention this because the webcast is only up for a week after the session (I think). the Committee's report should come out in a couple of mnths.

  97. Adrian Midgley

    @Spleen, you give the answer

    Spleen vents: "What might be a pragmatic choice for a privately funded company becomes deeply problematic for a public corporation."

    and goes on to gloss it with:

    "I fail to see why. The argument about it breaching state aid laws may be valid,"

    So which bit of "it is (probably) illegal" is giving you a problem with why it is problematic for a public corporation?

  98. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    People's ignorance about rights is staggering.

    "The BBC knew this was coming a long time ago, and have had years to plan for it and negotiate contracts appropriately."

    Bollocks, frankly. Just because the BBC has known about it a long time doesn't mean they can do the impossible. If I spend five years planning to negotiate buying a 52 inch widescreen telly from Currys for a fiver I've wasted five years, because no matter how much planning I do they will still charge the market rate for it - ie several grand.

    The BBC only have transitory broadcast rights. If they want to give away content in perpetuity they will have to pay something like the market rates for that.

    And no, the fact you can spend four hours transcoding a half hour programme does not dilute this, because in the general population NOBODY transcodes. It's too much of a pain in the ass.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019