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BBC To Create 'Catch-Up TV Player'

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the now-thats-a-good-idea dept.

Television 146

grouchal writes "The BBC Trust (a semi independent regulator) has just approved the BBC's efforts to launch iPlayer (no new info on this link yet). This means that UK residents can watch broadcast BBC programs out of sync with the broadcast schedule by up to 30 days for free. The iPlayer will launch for the PC but is expected on Media Center, Xbox 360 devices in the near future. The approval also included some constraints." This would really have made my life a lot simpler when my tivo died a couple of weeks ago.

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146 comments

OS X as well... (4, Informative)

BWJones (18351) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926647)

I should also add that the BBC will also support OS X [macworld.co.uk] .

Re:OS X as well... (0, Offtopic)

byolinux (535260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926659)

And that they're not called the BCC ;)

Re:OS X as well... (1)

peterprior (319967) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926913)

But typically no Linux support - TV licence fee reduction for me please.. :P

Re:OS X as well... (4, Informative)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927035)

Not according to the BBC:

But the trust has asked the BBC to ensure that the iPlayer computer application can run on different systems - such as Apple Macs - within "a reasonable time frame".

Earlier this month BBC Future Media boss Ashley Highfield said the corporation was committed to rolling out the iPlayer on Windows PCs first of all, and then cable TV services, Apple Macs, and eventually Freeview boxes.

But the BBC said it could not commit to a two-year deadline to achieve this goal, saying it was up to the third parties concerned. (my emphasis)

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/6607083.s tm [bbc.co.uk]

iPlayer is built on top of Windows Media Player using Windows DRM - part of the BBC's stunning support for open standards and multiplatform development. Even if they do ship it for Mac the DRM issue will probably limit the programmes you can download.

Re:OS X as well... (4, Interesting)

crush (19364) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927307)

I don't get the BBC at all. They make a lot of noise about how they can't release some material in some formats because it would create competition for private industry, but then they prop up the largest monopolist in software world. They also waste massively stupid amounts of bandwidth by broadcasting their archived material in e.g. RealPlayer format instead of something more compact like OggVorbis or even MP3 (take a listen to their BBC7 [bbc.co.uk] radio station), there's no need to broadcast that material in that high a quality. It makes it wasteful for most people to listen online and it creates exactly what they say they want to avoid: a very high quality digital copy that competes with commercial vendors (e.g. of books on CD).

Re:OS X as well... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927367)

They make a lot of noise about how they can't release some material in some formats because it would create competition for private industry
I don't think that "they" (i.e. the BBC) did - I think that it was the BBC Trust. Personally I'd have expected the BBC Trust to represent the licence payers rather than the competition.

Re:OS X as well... (3, Insightful)

TobascoKid (82629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927739)

Personally I'd have expected the BBC Trust to represent the licence payers rather than the competition.

They actually take both sides into account. I think they try to be biased towards the licence fee payer though.

Re:OS X as well... (1)

bradavon (1066358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928059)

Businesses inherently don't trust open source, in order to play OGG you need a third part addin, granted you do too for RealPlayer but it's more common for that to already be installed and has a known/trusted installer. Trusted that is by the industry.

Personally I wish they'd use only ASX as RealPlayer is evil, dreadful software. AFAIK you cannot stream MP3s like you can RealPlayer and ASF. As for quality it's not enough IMO. In the days of Broadband I'd like CD quality, it's not like they're restricted to the FM specification.

Thankfully they now also offer ASX so I use that from WMP.

Then don't pay your TV license fee! (1)

tizzyD (577098) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927429)

This is a public service announcement . . . with keyboard . . .

If the BBC has committed to supporting one product above others in the market place--that is, the DRM platform in Media Player--then politely inform the BBC that you will not pay your license fee until universal access is provided. Such a blatant attempt to support a commercial organization through a government programme should be most strongly resisted. Moreover, it is only when the citizens require that government truly level the playing field, rather than prop up commercial organization's poor products through forced purchases, that they have fulfilled their consumer and market protection goals.

Windows DRM = No TV Tax!
(too bad bumper stickers aren't so popular over there)

Then again, this whole tirade is easy for me to say, as I'm in the States. Nonetheless, if Bush and the other Royalists here started the same crap, I'd resist. I've done with web sites that only support IE, and I will do it every time that lazy developers and foolish, ill-informed managers make decisions that prevent all the citizens from accessing the services of the government!

Re:OS X as well... (1)

tolan-b (230077) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928105)

Here's the trust's full decision (links to PDF and plain text versions on the linked page) here [bbc.co.uk]

The BBC are saying they can't guarantee it because of third parties, to which the trust has said they'll be making a 6 monthly check-up to ensure things are going as they should.

In summary, we recognise and share the strength of feeling on platform neutrality. We do not consider it practicable to offer catch-up television over the internet on a platform neutral basis immediately. We consider it preferable to allow the BBC to provide value to a majority of users now rather than to wait until full platform neutrality can be achieved before providing catch-up television. We still require platform neutrality for seven-day catch-up television over the internet within a reasonable timeframe, but we have decided not to specify a deadline for achieving this. To counter-balance this, the Trust will take a more active role in holding the Executive to account on the issue by auditing its progress every six months.


They also discuss why they support the BBC's claim that DRM is required (mainly, the BBC doesn't 100% own most of their content and that they're not meant to totally clobber commercial broadcasters) and give more detail about cross-platform support in general and how it ties into the DRM issue.

File format ? DRM ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926653)


what file format are they using ? WMV ASF ? and any idea on the type of DRM involved ?

Re:File format ? DRM ? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926975)

I could be wrong, but I still to remember reading they were rolling their own player, codec, format and DRM, and that they asked permission to open source everything but the DRM. Not sure what happened after that.

Re:File format ? DRM ? (1)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927103)

They might have been in the dim and distant past, but the version that's been in trial for the last two and a bit years is Windows Media Player with a bit of P2P underneath. Don't expect anything to change either. The BBC is fully Microsofted: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/5390000.stm [bbc.co.uk]

Re:File format ? DRM ? (1)

SpeckledJim (662874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927413)

As far as I can tell they are still working on Dirac. http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/dirac/index.shtml [bbc.co.uk]

Re:File format ? DRM ? (2, Informative)

xoyoyo (949672) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927655)

Er, yes. That is indeed a video codec. Is it used in iPlayer? Not at the moment, no. The Dirac team seem to think it may "possibly" be used as the codec for a future platform agnostic iPlayer. Note "future".

Even if it were added to iPlayer WMP is a container and can handle multiple codecs so there'd be nothing to stop the BBC encoding content using its own codec and still have it viewable in WMP. The codec is much less significant than the DRM approach chosen.

We get it for free... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926657)

This means that UK residents can watch broadcast BBC programs out of sync with the broadcast schedule by up to 30 days for free.

Only with us here in the US, it can be anywhere from a year to 30 years, depending on when PBS broadcasts it - all for free. Why, I'm just seeing the "Dr. Who" with Billy Piper - how old is she now? 75?

Technology schmology...

UK Resident (4, Insightful)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926683)

This would really have made my life a lot simpler when my tivo died a couple of weeks ago.
Not really...You're not a UK resident.

Re:UK Resident (1)

PipOC (886408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926851)

Is it really that hard to get a proxy in the UK?

Re:UK Resident (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926967)

And what are you going to enter for the TV license# ?

Re:UK Resident (1)

Paulrothrock (685079) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927083)

All you have to do to view it is spoof your nationality.

I've already started practicing my accent. "'Ello guvnah. Fancy a spot of tea and a nice bit a' Stilton? 'Ow about that la'est episode of Doctor Who?"

Re:UK Resident (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927191)

Gotcha! Should be Doctor 'oo.

Re:UK Resident (1)

iainl (136759) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928057)

WHOM

Public dis-service broadcasting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926701)

Can I sandbox this proprietary DRM-laden crud in a QEMU VM running Windows?

Looks like that's the best us F/OSS using license* payers can expect.

* spellchecked to en-us.

BCC? Best editing ever! (0, Offtopic)

Thwomp (773873) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926703)

Bravo. Only kidding Commander.

Whoa, they actually did! (0, Offtopic)

Animaether (411575) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926793)

edit, that is.. the title now does read "BBC". Scaaaaary. Rest assured, though, parent poster - you're not going nuts, it did indeed spell "BCC" before. Made me wonder what that electronics chain had to do with it..

Linux? (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926725)

They are also looking at releasing the whole BBC archive to viewers as well.

see http://www.pandia.com/sw-2004/33-bbc.html [pandia.com]

Xbox 360, PC, MEdia Center and other devices?

from TFA "The iPlayer computer application will only be initially available to those with Windows PCs. But the trust has asked the BBC to ensure that the iPlayer computer application can run on different systems - such as Apple Macs - within 'a reasonable time frame'. "

So how long before we can get this on Linux? or the PS3?

And how long is 'reasonable'...?

Suddenly my TV License payments seem more reasonable.....

Re:Linux? (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926773)

Not reasonable at all, do I get cash back until they make Linux work?

Re:Linux? (2, Interesting)

byolinux (535260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926837)

They'll never make a GNU/Linux version of the iPlayer. Never ever ever.

At best, someone might be able to get their proprietary player running under Wine.

We should tell the BBC this is unacceptable - http://www.bbc.co.uk/feedback/ [bbc.co.uk]

Re:Linux? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926895)

Yes it's completely unacceptable that someone who knows absolutely nothing things they'll never ever ever make a Linux version of the iPlayer.

Are you kidding me? This hasn't even been released yet (for ANY OS) and you're already lighting up the torches. Give it time, in the meantime, just use a newsreader for christ's sake. Once the program is available for OSX it's not too hard to then port it to Linux in one way shape or form.

breathe deeply and repeat after me:

this is a good idea, let's see where they go with it before we boycott it. At least you're in the UK unlike most of the nay sayers....

Re:Linux? (1)

byolinux (535260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927261)

How is this a good idea? Accepting DRM is a very bad idea.

If it happens, it would be DRM, binary and non-free - that's not useful, and seeks only to harm the free software community.

Re:Linux? (4, Informative)

Ngwenya (147097) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927671)

Firstly, I think it very unlikely that the current iPlayer mechanisms would/could be be ported to Linux. They're heavily dependent on Windows DRM, which in turn is heavily dependent on the Windows architecture (complete with Windows' methods for detecting debugger operations to prevent DRM bypass). Thus, while the APIs could be replicated on Linux/OS X, the protections would be trivial to bypass. Leaving aside whether MS would permit a porting effort.

OS X probably has a better shot - since you could implement the APIs without much extra paranoia, but use the inbuilt TPM on Intel Macs to ensure the OS and running environment was in a known good state. Since you can't count on a Linux box having a TPM, you can't make reverse engineering of the DRM system more difficult.

For what its worth, the tech guys at the BBC are fully aware of Linux, and it is in their plan to support it via iPlayer. The best way of accomplishing this isn't through technical means, but political. It's important for people to understand why the BBC is using DRM. They don't want to - it just increases running costs and introduces new points of failure into an already complex system. But the programme makers (who are often not the BBC) together with the contracted personnel who produce the programs insisted that any attempt to broadcast content in the clear would count as unlimited repeat broadcast. Which is fine, but it would cost the BBC a fortune to pay out as per contractual requirements. Hence the DRM enforced limitations, which are a sort of contractual enforcement by proxy. A pretty crappy one, but one which the lawyers would accept.

It's a simple problem to state, but hard to fix at a technical level - because there's no real technical problem. Existing contracts for TV works are written in language which predates the Internet and the on-demand style of viewing. Thus, it's always expressed in terms of initial showings, repeat fees, differential media exploitation rates, etc. Recent contracts which the BBC is creating are far more encompassing of alternative distribution technologies. So the final solution is to get far more sane exploitation rights written into contracts, which accurately reflect TV watching habits of the 21st century, and to stop wishing that the Internet and its on-demand modes of use would just go away.

Of course, the ultimate stupidity of all of this is that the programmes are being broadcast in digital form completely unencrypted right now! DVB-T/C/S transmissions spit this stuff out in full resolution (whereas iPlayer doesn't) which a $200 PC card can receive and store the content on a persistent device. It's almost like the the lawyers put their fingers in their ears and sang "Lalala! Can't hear you!" when this gets mentioned.

End result: Build a MythTV box with a Freeview card. You can suck down as many channels as you like and keep it for ever. Transcode to H.264 and a 500GB hard disk will keep 6 months of programming easily.

--Ng

Re:Linux? (1)

slughead (592713) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927253)

We should tell the BBC this is unacceptable

Ultimately, there isn't anything you can do about it.

You gotta love state-run organizations.

Maybe it's just me, but I read some the positive feedback about this new program and it's sort of disturbing how grateful people are. In America, you have your choice of open source and commercial solutions to do exactly what this does, with no DRM or time limit. When the BBC decides to be so "gracious" as to allow its customers to "tape now, watch later.. but not too much later!," it's like a big love fest.

It's like when AT&T had a government-enforced monopoly on the whole phone network and they released another rotary telephone... in blue! Since you weren't allowed to plug in any unapproved device into "their" network, and you had to pay a monthly fee on each telephone you plugged in, you were stuck with only what they gave you.

Parent poster points out merely one problem with this system, I propose another one: Open up the BBC, allow competition with open standards.

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927477)

It's inaccurate to call the BBC 'state-run', 'state-funded' or 'state-owned' maybe, but don't give the state authority over the BBC that it dosen't have.

I'm also a little confused by open-source and commerical solutions that exist...surely a commerical solution is, say, a video recorder, a TiVo, both of which you could easily use to get the content you want in your hands, for as long as you wish.

Re:Linux? (3, Informative)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927377)

As a sibling has said, what the hell do you know?

Here in Denmark we have our public TV online already, and that plays on all operating systems, although linux is still playing in a lower resolution than under windows. All it requires is installing mplayer and getting the mplayer MS codecs (they are legal in EU).

Re:Linux? (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927653)

What's the demand like for Danish TV outside of Denmark? BBC makes a stack of money selling its shows abroad so allowing non-DRMed viewing online would hurt them in the pocket. And the people asking for money back from their TV licenses - only a small percentage of license fee payers are going to use this (in the near future) so in effect almost everybody should be getting a refund. In practice though it doesn't work that way. I don't think the BBC should spend money on Soap Operas or reality TV or... or... a lot of stuff more heinous than Windows DRM.

Re:Linux? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927737)

As far as I know a lot of our shows get shown on foreign TV.

Re:Linux? (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927663)

Here in Denmark we have our public TV online already, and that plays on all operating systems, although linux is still playing in a lower resolution than under windows. All it requires is installing mplayer and getting the mplayer MS codecs (they are legal in EU).

That is NOT acceptable... the codec used should be non-proprietary and completely free to implement and redistribute. If it can't be distributed in Debian or Ubuntu then it's of no use to me and countless others who prefer to use free as in freedom software. I don't like binary blobs and I'm doing my best to remove them from my machines... If Intel had the sense to make a completely stand-alone graphics card that I could use in my AMD boxes, then I'd dump nVidia in a nanosecond...

Re:Linux? (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927767)

Uhm, it is non-proprietary and somewhat free to distribute, just not in the US. The MS codecs are reversed engineered and recoded, thus only thing preventing you from using it is patents, and thus the US is fucked. The reason why Debian and Ubuntu doesn't include them is the US crowd, but I think Ubuntu has changed its policies with feisty fawn.

Re:Linux? (1)

koogydelbbog (451219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927897)

> the codec used should be non-proprietary and completely free to implement and redistribute

the BBC has their own open source codec:

http://dirac.sourceforge.net/overview.html [sourceforge.net]

(but, as others have pointed out, the content creators will insist on drm etc)

Re:Linux? (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927627)

And a big welcome to a whole new Linux persecution complex! It's a game the whole family can play!

Step 1/ Create your own possible scenario of Linux persecution. Do not worry about any supporting evidence or factual basis.
Step 2/ Write to someone in authority complaining about it.

Here's a a fun example to get you started!

Dear Director General of the BBC,
Why, oh why, did I decided yesterday that you would never create a Linux version of iPlayer? This is unacceptable and I can't believe I'd imagine you even considering such a thing! I demand that by the end of the month I'm certain such a thing is possible.

Frankly, if you don't sort out the ideas in my head more to my liking, I will lobby my MP to have you sacked.

It has also crossed my mind that there may be no new series of Dr Who next year. This is outrageous! Is there no end to the stupidity I can imagine you indulging in?! Sort yourself out!

Re:Linux? (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928009)

>They'll never make a GNU/Linux version of the iPlayer. Never ever ever.

Well they have bet the farm on DRM so I doubt it would. We need a new DVD Jon to make a third party player for it. After all, I have paid for the content already.

Re:Linux? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927071)

I can't find a reference to it being available on the 360 anywhere, which is somewhat annoying as it would be incredibly useful.

Re:Linux? (1)

AlHunt (982887) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927779)

They are also looking at releasing the whole BBC archive to viewers as well. .... So how long before we can get this on Linux? or the PS3? And how long is 'reasonable'...?

Hard telling - the story you linked to is already 3 years old. I'd say "reasonable" is already in the rearview mirror.

Re:Linux? (1)

binkzz (779594) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928031)

"Xbox 360, PC, MEdia Center"

Those are all MS products. I'm thinking someone at the BBC is getting some sweet lovin' from Microsoft.

Still DRM'ed (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926737)

It's still tied by DRM to the one platform so I don't give it high chances for success. I guess they have a lot of money to keep it afloat it if flounders for a while then catches on (I'm trying to avoid CmdrTaco's fate with the iPod prediction here).

But is there no MythTV or Tivo-type solution available in the Britain? I mean it's publicly funded so shouldn't people get more control over what they've paid for?

Re:Still DRM'ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926819)

But is there no MythTV or Tivo-type solution available in the Britain?

I don't use it myself but yes, MythTV works just as well here in "the Britian" as it does elsewhere. Better in fact, as I understand complete TV listings are much easier to get direct from places like Radio Times.

Re:Still DRM'ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926981)

There's also a crap load of freeview DVRs. In Britian for your tv license you get a ton of free to air digital channels provided you've either got a decent antenna, or live by a transmitter. do a search for freeview channels if you're curious. No high def for free yet, but that's what the internet is for ;-)

Re:Still DRM'ed (1)

TobascoKid (82629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927917)

In Britian for your tv license you get a ton of free to air digital channels

8 Channels (BBC 1, 2, 3, 4, News 24, Parliament, CBBC, CBeebies), arguably only 6 as the childrens channels use the same bandwidth as 3 and 4. The rest get no licence fee money, and are therefore not a part of the licence fee "package" and shouldn't be considered as part of the "ton" of channels you get for your fee.

Even if you include the commercial channels, Freeview's only around 40 channels max - assuming you can get all the multiplexes. It's hardly a ton.

No high def for free yet

There's the BBC HD channel on satellite (which is just as "free" as the BBC on DTT/Freeview).

Not necessarily (0, Redundant)

dhavleak (912889) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926901)

DRM protection in itself won't tie the content to a platform. Previous links have already mentioned that BBC will make an OS-X player a priority. There's no technical reason why the same DRM scheme can't work on both (any/all) platforms.

Of course, I expect everyone on /. to yell bloody murder at the very mention of DRM, but IMHO this isn't unreasonable on BBC's part.

Re:Not necessarily (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927559)

There's no technical reason why the same DRM scheme can't work on both (any/all) platforms.


No technical reason no, but they bought this DRM from MS. It'll be a cold day in hell before it integrates well with anything other than Windows.

That's why it's unreasonable, and frankly, stupid, on the part of the BBC.

Re:Still DRM'ed (1)

PriyanPhoenix (900509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927245)

While I generally decry DRM as crippling digital data that ought to be freely movable, I am less concerned here. Primarily because it is essentially FREE access to programming (license fee notwithstanding) which is still only available for a short time outside its allocated broadcast slot. The need to move a file between machines during the short grace period is unlikely.

Although this prevents you transferring shows to portable devices it is only intended as an alternative TV system and so is playable on appropriate devices like PCs and Media Centre/Xbox 360 connected TVs. Portable shows are a separate concern.

Re:Still DRM'ed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927251)

There's the Sky+ service that works for Sky customers. It's actually really good - a one off price and you get to record a whole series automatically, pause live tv etc.

Re:Still DRM'ed (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927417)

Absolutely. Best thing about Sky Plus is this: Change channels on time for the start of the programme you want to watch, then go off and do something else for 10 minutes or thereabouts. Return to TV. Rewind to beginning of programme. (Now you are 10 minutes behind the live broadcast; more if you pause or rewind it.) Fast-forward through adverts.

Worst thing about it is the time display, which by default -- and I haven't found out where to change it -- is AM/PM, not VCR-style. This frankly does my head in.

Re:Still DRM'ed (1)

EonBlueTooL (974478) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927699)

Paradigm one: All drm will be broken.

Paradigm two: Any service convenient enough will be used regardless of DRM.

If it's more conveneient (and faster) to watch something with commercials (one or two not 10) rather then download the torrent I don't think many people will care. Infact I see no reason to mess with torrents at all should that be the case. If they have everything organized and cataloged there is even less of a reason to use torrents.

The industry (media) has already set this up. There is a possibility, small but there, that you can be prosecuted for downloading any media. There is a possibility, extremly small if youre intelligent, that you can download a trojan or the like from any p2p service.

The only way you can lose by putting out "free" to watch content is by making it more inconvenient then the alternatives, and to be honest what are you gonna do once you've watched a tv show on your pc? Upload it to your iPod? Burn it to a dvd? I can honestly say I'd likly delete all the data and never look at it again. (I know that this rant is not about the same service in tfa, but I can dream that its a start to the one I am)

An historic day (1, Offtopic)

15Bit (940730) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926739)

After months of careful preparation and a dedicated training regime, the slashdot editors have today finally reached the summit of typographical errors - screwing up the world's most recognisable acronym at the beginning of the story headline. Well done guys - you should be proud.

Re:An historic day (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926879)

A historic day. the h is not silent.

Re:An historic day (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927461)

That should be "A historic day", or maybe "An 'istoric day". "Historic" begins with a H. And H, as in "Hibs", is a consonant.

Not UK resident (2, Interesting)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926741)


If anyone from the BBC is reading this, as a non-UK resident I would be happy to pay the annual licence fee if I could get access to the UK BBC channels.

If you could make it work with my Apple TV, even better!

Re:Not UK resident (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926783)

That's the problem with building more closed systems: the BBC has to see your request to make that happen. Using open protocols or at least published APIs allow anyone interested enough to create that interface for you. For your Apple TV there are a limited number of ways for you to get what you want and I think they involve Apple and BBC deciding there's an audience that's worth serving.

Best of luck.

Re:Not UK resident (1)

pubjames (468013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926805)

I think they involve Apple and BBC deciding there's an audience that's worth serving.

I don't think that's true - I believe anyone can publish a video RSS feed that could be accessed by the Apple TV - no agreement with Apple necessary. (Of course, if you want it in the Apple iTunes, store, you would need agreement from Apple but it's not necessary to publish a compatible feed).

Re:Not UK resident (1)

Metaphorically (841874) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926925)

If you're right then I'd be happy to be corrected - I'm feeling exceptionally bitter, even for a Monday morning.

TV is not dead, it just deserves to die (2, Informative)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927005)

They should be selling this content, DRM free, to the rest of the world, hell, I think they should be selling it in the UK too, then maybe they could bring the license fee down a little to compensate. Selling their content online (for reasonable prices) would allow them to move long-term to a model where they are a content creator and licenser, not a broadcaster.

However just like their archive this has been hobbled by rights issues and silly rules about 'broadcasting' on the internet for 7 days, 30 days, or whatever their limit is now. If it wasn't for those rules, they wouldn't have to use DRM at all. Instead they're stuck in 1996, trying to create an ecosystem that their users couldn't care less about.

They've bought into this Microsoft DRM, and are now going to pay the price of becoming irrelevant to users of other platforms, like OS X, mobile phones, consoles which don't come from MS, Linux etc. Good job BBC. How they will move it to other platforms is anyone's guess - the BBC says it might be difficult within 2 years to move to OS X (which is what the trust wanted) - that's hardly a promising sign. Frankly, I don't think they'll ever make it with their 'iPlayer'. MS certainly has nil incentive to provide a working solution on OS X or Linux.

Quite apart from the DRM I don't want to download another player for every TV station that wants to go online - they should use the outlets currently available, like Microsoft Live and iTunes, to sell their stuff. Instead of using standard channels and outlets they've rolled their own player and bought in DRM. Channel 4 has pulled the same trick and their forum [channel4.com] is full of people complaining about how crap it is. The C4 player even installs a P2P client to serve their stuff for you without asking. Nice.

These media creators/outlets are obviously stuck in the 1990s, and they're not going to get the internet till they're dragged kicking and streaming onto it. The fact they still talk about broadcasting when they're actually talking about downloads says everything really. They're trying to hobble downloads to turn them into a broadcast.

What a service like this needs to succeed :

1. Offer downloads of files which will play on any modern video software, on computers, phones etc etc
2. Not time limited
3. Sell the damn content worldwide 1 year after first broadcast
4. Use any sales channel you can get, don't try to limit it to your 'iPlayer'
5. DRM not required, in fact it'd be a huge hindrance because it makes it impossible to do 1 above
6. Don't try to turn the Internet into TV - the obverse is inevitable, and the sooner you get used to it the better.

Re:TV is not dead, it just deserves to die (1)

stiggle (649614) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927111)

They do sell a lot of their content, to other broadcasters around the world and in the UK on satellite. They also sell their programs on DVD and radio programs on CD.

Its an alternative way of getting programs that you just missed instead of hitting something like UKNova and bittorrenting the shows.

How many times have you been talking to someone and they mentioned something that was on the previous evening and you think D'oh! I wanted to watch that. This will allow you to watch it.

Re:TV is not dead, it just deserves to die (1)

Serious Callers Only (1022605) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927343)

They do sell a lot of their content, to other broadcasters around the world and in the UK on satellite. They also sell their programs on DVD and radio programs on CD.


I'm aware of that thanks. My point is they have an opportunity here to start selling and distributing their content online - they could sell worldwide and eventually bypass all the headaches with the physical distribution methods you mentioned (which are myriad). Instead they have created a player which will bleed money, piss off people who download it and find out its using their connection for uploads too, and tie them to Microsoft for everything.

Wow.

I guess this is the result of this agreement, and they've been sold a bridge by MS :

From the BBC [bbc.co.uk] "To ensure that the BBC is able to embrace the creative challenges of the digital future, we need to forge strategic partnerships with technology companies and distributors for the benefit of licence payers."

hitting something like UKNova and bittorrenting the shows.


Interesting that the illegal bitttorrent actually has a broader selection, the shows actually stay up longer than a month, and will probably remain more widespread than their legal solution, isn't it?

How many times have you been talking to someone and they mentioned something that was on the previous evening and you think D'oh! I wanted to watch that. This will allow you to watch it.


Actually, no it won't, because I don't use Microsoft software. This doesn't interest me at all, and I suspect it won't interest a lot of people, because of the annoying limitations. It'd be much cooler if I could find out about a series or programme and go and watch a few previous episodes of it, no matter when it aired on broadcast TV. The great thing about the internet as opposed to TV is that all content can be available, all the time. You don't have to worry about time-shifting to get something, it's always there (though you may sometimes have to pay). This approach (time-limited, tied to their player) ignores all those advantages.

Re:Not UK resident (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927577)

You could try Zattoo [zattoo.com] (Win/Mac only)

It's a real hassle to get it working though...

1. Register through a swiss web proxy [youngl.net]
2. Download and install Proxifier [proxifier.com] and set it up to work with Zattoo
3. Use Zattoo through an UK Proxy or use Tor and define an UK ExitNode

Zattoo will recieve the channellist and a login-ticket valid for 24 hours or something, so once you have the channels you can close the proxy or Tor connection.

Re:Not UK resident (1)

TiredOfCrap (885340) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927681)

I absolutely agree with you

I live in the USA, don't have cable, but would willingly pay the licence fee to receive BBC product.

what about receiving BBC through Sat abroad? (1)

donstenk72 (593985) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927843)

I subscribe to that as well! I am living in the south of Italy and all I can get is BBC Prime (the re-run channel) and BBC World through Sky satellite service. If anybody has managed a way to receive standard BBC channel through sat, please let me know!

how do you do it? (3, Funny)

potat0man (724766) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926795)

This would really have made my life a lot simpler when my tivo died a couple of weeks ago.

My goodness I know. It's a wonder how we make it through the day.

A correction (0)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926803)

The BCC would like to apologize for being called the BBC for all those years; we realize this will create chaos and confusion to our viewers, but mild sedatives should make the whole thing right.

NOTE: And for anyone reading this post, the posts mentioning the typo are now out of date, as the error has been corrected. We apologize to any Slashdot readers who are confused, and suggest that a spot of work will make everything right.

iWhat? (2, Funny)

jamesl (106902) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926839)

How long before iApple and iJobs get the iLawyers to send a iMail to BBC for an iNappropriate and possibly iNfringing use of an iWord?

Re:iWhat? (1)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927321)

Never? The simple addition of an 'i' in front of a word is not solely a Apple thing. I can't be fucked finding references to back up my assertions, and I am in no way a lawyer (though I once had a nice wank about a law student...), but I would be very surprised if you could trademark a single letter in such a broad range of applications. It would probably be like Intel trying to trademark '486' failing and then using Pentium from then on (and nothing to do with the fact the 486+100=485.9999999199191 on the P1).

Re:iWhat? (1)

ltrm (845045) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928017)

It would probably be like Intel trying to trademark '486' failing and then using Pentium from then on (and nothing to do with the fact the 486+100=485.9999999199191 on the P1).
what about i486, eh?!

DRM'd pile of crap (4, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926847)

Even though I am a UK BBC license fee payer, I won't be able to use this service I have paid for, because I don't use Windows and in and case I'm mot prepared to accept DRM.

I'll continue downloading DRM free BBC shows via bittorrent just as I have for a while now. I have no moral objection to doing this since I've paid for the content anyway.

How long are we going to continue in a situation where the unofficial channels of content delivery are superior to the official ones? Surely it can't be forever and DRM will soon have to die?

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927067)

DRM will never die as long as people keep pirating crap that they haven't paid for. Just because you paid doesn't mean that everyone else did.

The people that steal are ultimately the ones to blame for DRM -- if no one stole, DRM would be completely unnecessary. It sucks that that's the way it is, but it's an inconvenience. Oh well.

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (3, Insightful)

MartinG (52587) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927271)

1) copyright infringement is not theft.

2) I have, on occasion decided to download instead of buying because it's the ONLY WAY to get content without DRM. You say "stealing" causes DRM, but I think it's the other way around. I would be perfectly prepared to pay for non-DRM'd content and I accuse anyone who disagrees with my of judging me by their own standards.

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927141)

I'll continue downloading DRM free BBC shows via bittorrent just as I have for a while now. I have no moral objection to doing this since I've paid for the content anyway.

BitTorrent uploads while you download. The fact that you have paid for the content doesn't entirely absolve you, unless you don't care about the fact that you are distributing copies to people who probably haven't paid for it, in which case, why do you care so much about whether you have?

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (1)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927285)

I'll continue downloading DRM free BBC shows via bittorrent just as I have for a while now. I have no moral objection to doing this since I've paid for the content anyway.
Notice that the BBC have never pursued those who upload their programmes onto p2p except in one case, when ep1 of New Dr Who was leaked before transmission. I'd argue that, like yourself, the BBC has no moral objections to the sharing of its content after transmission. In my view the iPlayer service is aimed squarely at the everyday user who has no interest in or knowledge of p2p. Plus the range of programmes on iPlayer will still be wider than what can be found on p2p, even the private trackers.

The BBC are well aware that p2p sharing will continue. They don't appear to be too concerned about it. One of the good things about an organisation that isn't solely interested in the bottom line.

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (1)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927379)

Even though I am a UK BBC license fee payer, I won't be able to use this service I have paid for, because I don't use Windows and in and case I'm mot prepared to accept DRM.

Not necessarily - it could probably be easily ported to OSX or Linux using a mini-virtual machine engine. If you scrapped the current DRM engine and replaced it with a new one which would work on an open-source microkernel, and then open-source the VM, you can have as close to DRM-free as the BBC will be prepared to go at the moment.

The problem is simply that people are greedy and want to wheedle as much money out of people as possible.

*fantasises* Maybe if the BBC heeded Terry Wogan's advice, and didn't pay extortionate amounts to celebrities, there would be higher pay for BBC staff, more money to spend on digital switchover, and enough to stop using DRM.

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (1)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927629)

What I want to know about the digital switchover is why, given that every TV receiver will have to be replaced, did they not at the same time mandate that every receiver must be capable of accepting a smartcard for decoding? Then there would be no more need for TV detector vans and bully-boy tactics of the licence enforcement people (often used indiscriminately against non-TV-owners). If you haven't bought a viewing card, you can't watch TV. Simple as that. It would mean that the licence would be payable per receiver, not per address as it is at present, but there are ways of dealing with that especially if viewing cards are not tied to specific receivers (just like the old analogue Sky viewing cards; any card used to work in any machine, it was only the move to digital when they put the dog in that manger). People living alone but with two sets would need only one card (or maybe one for the TV and one for whatever takes the place of the VCR), which could be inserted into whichever one they were watching at the time. It would open up whole new business opportunities, e.g. "limited hours" viewing cards for people who don't watch enough TV to justify the full licence fee, or other situations (holiday homes would have TV sets but no card; short-duration cards would be available from the camp shop, if you forgot to bring yours with you from home).

My suspicion is that they just enjoy intimidating people for the hell of it, and mechanical enforcement would take all the fun out of it.

Re:DRM'd pile of crap (1)

icarusfall (840182) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927395)

UKNova and co. are superior methods of distribution because they conveniently bypass all the intellectual property legal problems. The BBC, as a massive, publicly-funded institution, can't do this. So they're going to have to edit out any content in shows where they don't have the right to sell it on (as they do now with podcasts where films clips are played, for instance), and they're going to have to make sure that they're at least trying to make sure that licence-holders and only licence-holders can view the stuff. Some DRM is going to be necessary to at least make it look like they're trying to do this. This way, they're trying to jump through all the necessary legal hoops, and hopefully the legal grey area of UKNova can continue to be quietly ignored / indulgently tolerated.

Yay! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18926889)

I can get British TV programs in less than half a year!

(or how long do you think it will take to hack'n'open it?)

4OD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18926893)

Channel4 in the UK have been providing a similar service via their 4OD (4 On Demand) software http://www.channel4.com/4od/ [channel4.com] , you can watch episodes of their 'standard' tv series for free for a week after their first showing. After that, there's a (relatively) small charge of 99p (about $2) to rent it with a 24 hour viewing "window" (you can keep the file for several days, but once you start watching, you get 24 hours to finish it).

MythTV? (1)

jotok (728554) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927021)

Say you have a data center, essentially a giant MythBackend. Subscribers pay a license fee to stream TV shows, movies, etc. to a MythFrontend appliance in their living room. The license fee in turn goes to pay the networks to let you "re-broadcast" their shows.

Is this essentially what they're doing?

For really good shows, you'd still want to tune in the night of broadcast in order to see it, because say for example you're just obsessed with "Lost" or whatever. But if you miss it, you could always watch it the next night. Or if you just feel like watching a Star Trek marathon then you could do that too.

I really don't know why we don't have this. AT&T promised that I would be able to pull any movie or tv show to my living room back in the 1990s, and still my only options are whatever crap is on Cox's "On Demand" service or bittorent. It seems like the first person to navigate the legalities and set up a data center for this would stand to make really embarrassing amount of money off of it.

You could probably charge a lot for it, too. Right now I pay $30/month or so for Cable TV. I only watch a few shows, and I never watch them before editing out the commercials with Myth. I would gladly pay 2x or 3x this amount if it meant that I was actually getting commercial-free content, plus the whole backlog of shows I hadn't seen yet.

iThis, iThat (1)

howman (170527) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927037)

I... want an iToilet so I can take an iDump and I can patent it and I can sell it as the youPoo... BBC iDea good or bad, I can see certain parties wanting their iCut of the iProfits for youCopyright reasons. (ducks)

BBC could make it big(ger) (2, Interesting)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927057)

Let non-UKians pay for a TV license and get access to all the online services. £135.50/year to get access to all of BBC programming and that massive back catalog? I'd certainly consider it.

Re:BBC could make it big(ger) (1)

Mark Gillespie (866733) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927173)

Yep, excellent plan, but lets hope they spend the added revenue generated on DECENT programming, not the crud that BBC has been churning out for the last 4 years..

BBC programe quality has gone right down the pan, and now consists mainly of cheap to make reality TV rubbish, no decent drama, comedy and other light entertainment..

Re:BBC could make it big(ger) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927289)

Yeah, cos that whole Planet Earth thing was a travesty of the highest order. Why don't they hire some real photographers and videographers next time? Maybe then they'll get some decent footage...

(wonders if slashdotters will be too dense to not be able to spot the dripping sarcasm)

Re:BBC could make it big(ger) (0)

Turn-X Alphonse (789240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927647)

Oh the BBC has comedy.. it's just not funny and clearly lost it's touch. It's all chav jokes and laughing tracks over failed 1 liners.

The BBC did great comedy in the 80s-90s, but went too Politically correct to really pull it off any more. Plus why bother with a good comedy show when some stupid thing about singing or dancing will allow you to make more money by corrupt phone votes any way?

Did you say BBC or FOX? (1)

nightsweat (604367) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928019)

Because it sure sounds familiar...

Re:BBC could make it big(ger) (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927411)

Better and less bureaucratic would be a reciprocal arrangement whereby TV viewers in other countries could receive BBC programming in exchange for British licence-payers being able to watch the public and free-to-air channels in those countries.

Anyone got a good UK proxy? (1)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927255)

I'm an American in the U.K. doing an internship. I know currently you need to register with the channels to watch tv online (simulcast)- registration only requires a valid postal address (easily forged). And a U.K. ip/isp address. It also checks your ip/isp when you start the links, and you authenticate. But I'm assuming us Americans who want to watch Doctor Who, Hollyoaks, Peepshow etc. just need a good U.K. proxy. Pretty simple- minus the 5-7 hour time change. So this could be great, we wouldn't be forced to watch friday night shows on friday afternoon. Get what i'm sayin?

Re:Anyone got a good UK proxy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927481)

Yes just a good proxy based in the UK and you will be able to access all the BBC content from the US.

Re:Anyone got a good UK proxy? (2, Insightful)

TobascoKid (82629) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928027)

requires a valid postal address (easily forged).

Seeing as the "armed wing of the BBC" (The TV Licensing Authority) has a database with every household in the UK on it, and the name of the Licence holder for that address, it may not be that simple.

I cant wait to see ... (1)

ThirdPrize (938147) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927407)

the internet grind to a halt as the entire output archive of the BBC crashes onto the P2P networks. Old episodes of East Enders anyone?

Wrongness upon wrongth (1)

Snart Barfunz (526615) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927439)

As is pointed out in other posts, this won't benefit users of Xbox 360s, PS3s etc in the near future (reasonable timeframe?) or perhaps ever. That's just a symptom though of the underlying wrongtitude.

The root cause is the Memorandum of Understanding that the BBC signed with Microsoft under which they agree to siphon a portion of the license fee straight into Bil Gates's pocket in exchange for access to 'advanced technology'. The BBC can no longer develop its own tech as it sold off its technology arm to Siemens.

Had they not done so, they could have developed their own DRM scheme and licensed it to TV, set-top box, etc manufacturers. The resulting revenue stream would have positioned them very well to play in the online space. Open APIs would also have spurred innovation in the UK software industry.

I'm not in the know as to whether the BBC was required to follow government procurement rules when setting up that Memorandum but the whole thing stinks of wrongness & short-sighted contingency.

Those F'ing iNames (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927609)

Now "iPlayer". Enough already, okay? Give Apple their little triumph and realize that there are *other* ways to name a gadget or service. Sort of think out of the box. (Why I didn't buy an iRiver I was looking at -- I'd have felt silly owning and using it.)

"for free"? (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18927691)

Nothing that the BBC does is "for free": UK residents pay for the BBC, to the tune of about $6 billion per year (!) or about $250/year/household.

Re:"for free"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18927935)

It's still the best TV in the world.

I'm over in the USA and paying a lot lot more than that per year ($130/month) for really poor TV. It seems like I'm paying for commercials, and as they are so many commercials why does TV here cost so much ?

Re:"for free"? (1)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18928101)

There are no television fees in the US, and public TV stations don't get a lot of money from the tax payer. The $130/month you pay are probably for cable. I don't know where you live, but (in the US) for $130/month, I get analog and digital cable, high speed internet, Internet phone service, standard cable, and a whole bunch of premium channels, most of them without ads. Oh, and I get the BBC, too.

Oh, don't get me wrong, the BBC is doing good stuff and I think they're worth the money. However, they shouldn't ask people to pay twice for the same content.

And cable is on top of the broadcast fees in the UK, of course.

PS: If you think the BBC broadcast fees are justified, I hope you're donating to your US public TV station, in addition to paying for cable.
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