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BBC's iPlayer's Prospects Looking Bleak

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the kick-their-dog-while-you're-at-it dept.

The Media 369

An anonymous reader writes "The future of iPlayer, the BBC's new online on-demand system for delivering content, is continuing to look bleaker. With ISPs threatening to throttle the content delivered through the iPlayer, consumers petitioning the UK government and the BBC to drop the DRM and Microsoft-only technology, and threatened legal action from the OSC, the last thing the BBC wanted to see today was street protests at their office and at the BBC Media Complex accompanied by a report issued by DefectiveByDesign about their association with Microsoft."

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Damn. (0, Redundant)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239119)

They're really getting it taken to them. Damn.

Re:Damn. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239993)

This is the most useful and insightful comment I've ever read on Slashdot.

blah blah blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239153)

why anyone would use anything other than an older version of dc++ with iqlord's fakemaker (which is essentially a brilliant automated use of 'fsutil hardlink create') ill never know.

Huh? (1, Interesting)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239185)

Now I'm just confused. My understanding of the situation is that a corporation wants to release content free (as in beer) for people to view, but people are actually taking to the streets in protest that the delivery system isn't free (as in speech). Or is this something that everyone is paying for, or is the content somehow regulated by the UK government? It just sounds like a company wants to release a product that only works on Windows, and I'm pretty sure that's been done before.

Feel free to blast me for being ignorant of the situation, but I couldn't find any decent info on why this situation warrants protests and such hype. If it pushes OSS, I'm all for it, it just seems a little over the top. The only bad thing I could find was it's delivery system, which would push the net neutrality debate...

DRM is the problem (3, Interesting)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239225)

There's no DRM solution that works for Linux, Windows and Mac. Or at least no solution that has been proven?

The annoying thing is the DRM just enforces an expiry time, it doesn't stop people without a TV licence (mandatory in UK) from viewing such content.

Re:DRM is the problem (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239313)

I realize that there's no cross platform DRM, but is there some UK law stating that a company's product must work across platforms?

Also, according to one of the links, people are demanding no DRM be used whatsoever.

Re:DRM is the problem (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239373)

Well, there's no law saying stuff has to be cross-platform, but (almost) all Brits pay a TV tax, and this covers the online content as well. So, people object to paying a tax and then being told "Oh, you don't use Windows, so this online content is useless to you."

          Plus, last I checked, Realplayer was cross-platform and supported rights restrictions, along with flash. Of course they can and have all been cracked, but so has Windows' rights restriction system. And, yes, as a practical matter, people want this DRM-free; the current content on TV can be tape (Tivo, etc.) recorded and watched whenever, so having the computerized version have additional restrictions placed on it is a step backwards, removes far use rights, and is something noone but the big media is interested in.

Re:DRM is the problem (4, Informative)

Shrubbman (3807) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239489)

The BBC receives its funding from people in the UK paying an annual license fee mandatory for anyone with a TV. It's programming is funded by the people, for the people, so I think you can see the problem people are having when access to that content through a new channel places proprietary restrictions on access to said content. So yes, the whole furor is that this is NOT just a private TV company, it's a public institution.

Re:DRM is the problem (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239581)

Out of curiosity, I wonder how much of the BBC's money comes from stations/organizations buying rights to broadcast/re-broadcast in other countries? For example, I found Dr. Who, et al. via the BBC via public TV broadcasts here in the states...

Re:DRM is the problem (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239875)

The BBC owns channels [] in much of the english speaking world, so it doesn't need to sell the rights, it just lets BBC America (for example) broadcast BBC made programmes when it wants. How much comes from the rest of the world, I don't know.

Re:DRM is the problem (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239791)

I'm not saying that I'm for this decision at all (I'd be SOL as well since I run Fedora at home...) but does that TV tax actually cover television programs distributed over the Internet? I'm trying to figure out if the government could actually do something about this, or if the petitions are going to fall on deaf ears.

Re:DRM is the problem (4, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239921)

but does that TV tax actually cover television programs distributed over the Internet?
Yes, infact, if I didn't have a TV, but was to watch a BBC programme live on the web (note the live, if it's not broadcast simultaneously, it doesn't matter), I would technically be in breech of the law if I didn't have a TV licence.

Re:DRM is the problem (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239945)

I'm not saying that I'm for this decision at all (I'd be SOL as well since I run Fedora at home...) but does that TV tax actually cover television programs distributed over the Internet?
I'm not sure, and I think the answer probably depends a lot on how the BBC handles its finances internally and how much firewalling there is between divisions in terms of funding sources, but I also don't think it's totally relevant.

The cost of distributing the content has to be a small fraction of the cost of actually creating it, and I'm nearly positive that the TV tax monies do assist with that. So arguing that "well, the internet distribution isn't funded by tax dollars" as a justification for putting DRM on the content is pretty thin.

Anyway, that's only one of the problems with iPlayer; the other, and probably more significant one, is that the iPlayer they're using (the crummy Windows-only, DRMed one) uses P2P in order to distribute the content. Consumer broadband ISPs aren't really thrilled with this, and see it as basically a way of making them bear the BBCs bandwidth costs.*

* For the record I think this is a bullshit argument, but that's what they're saying. Of course, what they hate to talk about is that they're rampantly overselling their capacity, and this is the real source of the problems.

Re:DRM is the problem (5, Insightful)

johnw (3725) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239543)

is there some UK law stating that a company's product must work across platforms?
The point is that the BBC is not just "a company". It's a public-service broadcaster, funded by a compulsory licence fee. It has a charter and obligations to fulfil.

You could probably make a case for the BBC restricting access to their content to licence-payers only (although I wouldn't), but instead they've gone with a completely inappropriate restriction of "Microsoft-users only".

The current iPlayer implementation really stinks - it stinks of pushy salesmen and weak-minded decision takers. It flies in the face of many decades of the BBC standing on principles and doing The Right Thing(TM), resisting commercial pressure. Now they've gone to the opposite extreme and the outrage is perfectly justified.


Re:Huh? (1)

Omeger (939765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239287)

Personally I wouldn't care how much DRM is on something if it's free as in beer. I'm not sure why it would have DRM though if it's free though. Probably because the people who make the shows wanted it to be distributed through the iPlayer and not any other system.

Re:Huh? (3, Insightful)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239519)

But it is not free as in beer. You pay the TV license fee to watch BBC programing in the UK. Its already been paid for by the users that are being denied access to the programming.

Re:Huh? (1)

Omeger (939765) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239829)

It's free as in beer in that you don't have to pay additional fees in order to watch it. You have to pay your cable provider to watch cable TV channels and they don't give out free programming to you.

Bit of a rock & a hard place thing here... (5, Insightful)

Dusty101 (765661) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239643)

Parent post is generally true: as I understand it, the BBC is required by their partners to make at least some token
gesture towards restricting the redistribution of material which doesn't totally belong to it.

To also respond to the grandparent: the big thing here is that the BBC is not a company in the same sense that (say)
US cable networks are. As Douglas Adams used to observe "The BBC's not in the same business as the other TV stations" (or words to that effect): their customers are not corporate advertisers. The BBC is funded by the UK TV licencing fee, & has therefore already been paid for by every Windows, Mac, Linux, *BSD, Solaris, etc. user in the UK with a TV licence, so it clearly is unfair for the Beeb to release iPlayer access to their programmes only to Windows users. (In the interests of full disclosure, btw, I'm a British ex-pat who only uses OS X & (GNU/)Linux).

I do feel some measure of sympathy for the BBC about this, though. As has been noted elsewhere, it should be considered admirable that the BBC are trying to make as much of their programming available online as is feasible without charging. Unfortunately, the only way they can think of at the moment to reconcile that ideal with the legal realities of their programme-producing partnerships & so on is to present them with some sort of anti-duplication measure, hence the DRM. However, my sympathy for the BBC on this issue is tempered by the information that one of the senior execs in charge of making the decisions is an ex-Microsoft Windows Media Player guy, which does tend to suggest scope for conflict of interest on his part.

On balance, I think that the pressure the BBC is feeling reflects the fact that it's pushing the boundaries on making their content freely available online, which is a forward-thinking policy in general, & should be applauded. The woes listed in the summary are largely due to some short-term lack of wisdom in the means currently being used to attain those goals.

Re:Huh? (4, Interesting)

Shabbs (11692) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239297)

The uproar from the public is that this new offering goes against what the BBC stands for at it's very core. By choosing a closed, proprietary format they've narrowed the scope of who can take advantage of this offering. The linked article goes into some nice detail

Here it is: []

The article goes as far as to suggest the BBC has been corrupted by Microsoft. I'm not sure it goes that far, but I think the BBC had all good intentions but failed on the delivery. I hope they won't abandon the effort but simply update it to ensure it's available cross-platform, DRM free using FOSS etc...

Would be a great showcase for FOSS if they did.


The BBC's Core (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239769)

from: 40427.ece []

From The Sunday Times
August 12, 2007
Confessions of a BBC liberal
The BBC has finally come clean about its bias, says a former editor, who wrote Yes, Minister
Antony Jay

In the past four weeks there have been two remarkable changes in the public attitude to the BBC. The first and most newsworthy one was precipitated by the faked trailer of the Queen walking out of a photographic portrait session with Annie Leibovitz.

It was especially damaging because the licence fee is based on a public belief that the BBC offers a degree of integrity and impartiality which its commercial competitors cannot achieve.

But in the longer term I believe that the second change is even more significant. It started with the BBC's own report on impartiality that effectively admitted to an institutional "liberal" bias among programme makers. Previously these accusations had been dismissed as a right-wing rant, but since the report was published even the BBC's allies seem to accept it.

It has been on parade again these past few weeks on the Radio 4 programme The Crime of Our Lives. It included (of course) the ritual demoni-sation of Margaret Thatcher (uninterested in crime . . . surprisingly did not take a closer interest), a swipe at Conservative magistrates and their friends in the golf club and occasional quotes from Douglas Hurd to preserve the illusion of impartiality, but the whole tenor of the programme was liberal/ progressive/ reformist.

The series even included a strong suggestion that Thatcher's economic policies were the cause of rising crime. So presumably she shouldn't have done what she did?

There is a perfectly reasonable case for progressive liberal reform of penal policy. There is also a perfectly reasonable case for a stricter and more punitive penal policy.

This programme was quite clearly on the side of the former and the producer/writer was a member of BBC staff. Can you imagine a BBC staff member slanting a programme towards the case for a stricter penal policy?

The growing general agreement that the culture of the BBC (and not just the BBC) is the culture of the chattering classes provokes a question that has puzzled me for 40 years. The question itself is simple - much simpler than the answer: what is behind the opinions and attitudes of this social group?

They are that minority often characterised (or caricatured) by sandals and macrobiotic diets, but in a less extreme form are found in The Guardian, Channel 4, the Church of England, academia, showbusiness and BBC news and current affairs. They constitute our metropolitan liberal media consensus, although the word "liberal" would have Adam Smith rotating in his grave. Let's call it "media liberalism".

It is of particular interest to me because for nine years, between 1955 and 1964, I was part of this media liberal consensus. For six of those nine years I was working on Tonight, a nightly BBC current affairs television programme. My stint coincided almost exactly with Harold Macmil-lan's premiership and I do not think that my former colleagues would quibble if I said we were not exactly diehard supporters.

But we were not just anti-Macmil-lan; we were antiindustry, anti-capital-ism, antiadvertising, antiselling, antiprofit, antipatriotism, antimonarchy, antiempire, antipolice, antiarmed forces, antibomb, antiauthority. Almost anything that made the world a freer, safer and more prosperous place - you name it, we were anti it.

Although I was a card-carrying media liberal for the best part of nine years, there was nothing in my past to predispose me towards membership. I spent my early years in a country where every citizen had to carry identification papers. All the newspapers were censored, as were all letters abroad; general elections had been abolished: it was a one-party state. Yes, that was Britain - Britain from 1939 to 1945.

I was nine when the war started, and 15 when it ended, and accepted these restrictions unquestioningly. I was astounded when identity cards were abolished. And the social system was at least as authoritarian as the political system. It was shocking for an unmarried couple to sleep together and a disgrace to have a baby out of wedlock. A homosexual act incurred a jail sentence. Procuring an abortion was a criminal offence. Violent young criminals were birched, older ones were flogged and murderers were hanged.

So how did we get from there to here? Unless we understand that, we shall never get inside the media liberal mind. And the starting point is the realisation that there have always been two principal ways of misunderstanding a society: by looking down on it from above and by looking up at it from below. In other words, by identifying with institutions or by identifying with individuals.

To look down on society from above, from the point of view of the ruling groups, the institutions, is to see the dangers of the organism splitting apart - the individual components shooting off in different directions until everything dissolves into anarchy.

To look up at society from below, from the point of view of the lowest group, the governed, is to see the dangers of the organism growing ever more rigid and oppressive until it fossilises into a monolithic tyranny.

Those who see society in this way are preoccupied with the need for liberty, equality, self-expression, representation, freedom of speech and action and worship, and the rights of the individual. The reason for the popularity of these misunderstandings is that both views are correct as far as they go and both sets of dangers are real, but there is no "right" point of view.

The most you can ever say is that sometimes society is in danger from too much authority and uniformity and sometimes from too much freedom and variety.

In retrospect it seems pretty clear that the 1940s and 1950s were years of excessive authority and uniformity. It was certainly clear to me and my media liberal colleagues in the BBC. It was not that we in the BBC openly and publicly criticised the government on air; the BBC's commitment to impartiality was more strictly enforced in those days.

But the topics we chose and the questions we asked were slanted against institutions and towards oppressed individuals, just as we achieved political balance by pitting the most plausible critics of government against its most bigoted supporters.

Ever since 1963 the institutions have been the villains of the media liberals. The police, the armed services, the courts, political parties, multi-national corporations - when things go wrong they are the usual suspects.

But our hostility to institutions was not - and is not - shared by the majority of our fellow citizens: most of our opinions were at odds with the majority of the audience and the electorate. Indeed the BBC's own 2007 report on impartiality found that 57% of poll respondents said that "broadcasters often fail to reflect the views of people like me".

There are four new factors which in my lifetime have brought about the changes that have shaped media liberalism, encouraged its spread and significantly increased its influence and importance.

The first of these is detribalisation. That our species has evolved a genetic predisposition to form tribal groups is generally accepted as an evolutionary fact. This grouping - of not more than about five or six hundred - supplies us with our identity, status system, territorial instinct, behavioural discipline and moral code.

We in the BBC were acutely detribalised; we were in a tribal institution, but we were not of it. Nor did we have any geographical tribe; we lived in commuter suburbs, we knew very few of our neighbours and took not the slightest interest in local government. In fact we looked down on it. Councillors were self-important nobodies and mayors were a pompous joke.

We belonged instead to a dispersed "metropolitan media arts graduate" tribe. We met over coffee, lunch, drinks and dinner to reinforce our views on the evils of apartheid, nuclear deterrence, capital punishment, the British Empire, big business, advertising, public relations, the royal family, the defence budget - it's a wonder we ever got home.

The second factor that shaped our media liberal attitudes was a sense of exclusion. We saw ourselves as part of the intellectual elite, full of ideas about how the country should be run. Being naive in the way institutions actually work, we were convinced that Britain's problems were the result of the stupidity of the people in charge of the country.

This ignorance of the realities of government and management enabled us to occupy the moral high ground. We saw ourselves as clever people in a stupid world, upright people in a corrupt world, compassionate people in a brutal world, libertarian people in an authoritarian world.

We were not Marxists but accepted a lot of Marxist social analysis. We also had an almost complete ignorance of market economics. That ignorance is still there. Say "Tesco" to a media liberal and the patellar reflex says, "Exploiting African farmers and driving out small shopkeepers." The achievement of providing the range of goods, the competitive prices, the food quality, the speed of service and the ease of parking that attract millions of shoppers does not register on their radar.

The third factor arises from the nature of mass media. The Tonight programme had a nightly audience of about 8m. It was much easier to keep their attention by telling them they were being deceived or exploited by big institutions than by saying what a good job the government and the banks and the oil companies were doing.

The fourth factor is what has been called "isolation technology". Fifty years ago people did things together much more. The older politicians we interviewed in the early Tonight days were happier in public meetings than in television studios.

In those days people went to evening meetings. They formed collective opinions. In many places party allegiance was collective and hereditary rather than a matter of individual choice based on a logical comparison of policies.

These four factors have significantly accelerated and indeed intensified the spread of media liberalism since I ceased to be a BBC employee 40 years ago.

But let's suppose that I had stayed. Would I have remained a devotee of the metropolitan media liberal ideology that I once absorbed so readily? I have an awful fear that the answer is yes.

Re:The BBC's Core (2, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20240005)

from: 40427.ece []

From The Sunday Times
August 12, 2007
Yes, this is obviously all true because newspapers never lie and the Rupert Murdoch owned Times, couldn't possibly be bias against the BBC; a competitor to the Rupert Murdoch owned Sky TV.

Re:Huh? (2, Informative)

zlogic (892404) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239305)

If you live in the UK and own a television you have to pay a special tax, some part of which goes to the BBC. So most people DO pay for BBC programs and have the right to actually watch them on a non-windows computer.

Re:Huh? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239423)

Devil's advocate, but it seems to me that the law would apply to televisions only. You still have the right to view it on your television, correct? If you wanted, could you still put a CATV capture card into your computer to view television on your computer? So you're still receiving 100% of the benefits of paying that special tax, right? Or is the iPlayer going to hinder the use of your television? Which part of the law would actually apply to program distribution over the Internet?

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239569)

Stop asking such smart questions! This is Slashdot. I have a right to do whatever I want to do and anything that prevents me from doing what I want to do (watch television online), when I want to do it (at my convenience and as many times thereafter as I would like) and how I want to do it (on Linux, and possibly on my iPhone) is evil incarnate!

Re:Huh? (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239693)

Yes, you still receive the benefits, but that's not the point (good question though). The BBC isn't a private company offering a service for a fee. It's a national institution that exists to serve the British public. It has a responsibility to offer all of its services to everyone on an equal footing.

Those who do not wish to pay Microsoft money should be entitled to receive the same service as those who do. There is a possibility that as a result of this protest, the whole idea will be dropped, but most people consider this outcome unlikely. We hope that the BBC will drop the DRM concept entirely, and rely on the fact that several million households pay an annual fee to keep it afloat.

Re:Huh? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239731)

you have to pay for a license if you operate any device which can recieve a TV signal: a TV, a VCR, a cable box, a TV card in a computer, etc.,.

Re:Huh? (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239795)

The licence fee doesn't cover "TV only", the BBC makes almost all of it's money from the licence fee* and funds many TV and radio stations from it, as well as their web site. As A licence fee payer, if I've paid for it, I should have a right to use it.

*The BBC doesn't carry adverts, it makes some money from DVD sales, and sales of rights, but even the latter is limited, as most of it's shows are shown by BBC worldwide, not other companies.

Re:Huh? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239857)

When discussing laws, it's important to read the wording of the original, not some random Slashdot comments. The TV License is required for anyone who owns a 'device capable of receiving broadcast TV signals.' This was more recently clarified to include a computer used to receive simulcast web streams.

Re:Huh? (1)

Elliot_Lin (972399) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239931)

IANAL, but as I understand it you pay to receive the broadcast signal (how I understand it) - for example you do not need a TV license technically to watch something you recorded with a valid TV license elsewhere. The issue really is whether transmitting the program over the internet is broadcasting (and therefore covered by the law) or just making available (in which case it is not). Either way the UK public has paid for the content and if the BBC is making it available in a new form it would be reasonable to expect that the BBC would make it available for everyone who paid.

Re:Huh? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239335)

The content is subsidized tax dollars, so is only free for some people - the tax payers don't seem to have a problem with this. However the BBC, is attempting to take this content which is supposed to be broadcast freely and lick it into some MS format.

Re:Huh? (1)

toleraen (831634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239481)

Are they taking it off the air, and moving it to Internet distribution only though? It seems that they're merely adding a second distribution channel, and that it is still broadcast freely over the traditional channel.

Re:Huh? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239505)

The internet portion was/is already there using Real player... currently works cross platform. What they want to do seems like a downgrade, to me at least.

Re:Huh? (1)

niceone (992278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239345)

Or is this something that everyone is paying for, or is the content somehow regulated by the UK government?

The BBC is paid for by a license fee which everyone who has a TV (or radio etc) has to pay. So, yes!

Re:Huh? (1)

growse (928427) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239415)

Right, except for the bit about radio. There is no license requirement in the UK for owning and operating a normal receiving radio.

Re:Huh? (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239375)

I'm confused, because according to the Ars article:

because the BBC's offering is expected to be so popular, ISPs are now concerned that iPlayer traffic will degrade the experience for all users of their networks.

Doesn't sound as doom and gloom as the summary makes it out to be.
Sounds like someone rallying support for their pet cause.

But hey, we might get a good illustration of net nuetrality in action. Also according to Ars:

UK ISPs, which banded together to tell the BBC that the ISPs would start to throttle the Corporation's new iPlayer service because it could overwhelm their networks. Unless the BBC pays up, of course.... If the iPlayer really takes off, consumers accessing the Internet will get very slow service and call their ISPs to complain."
And if the BBC doesn't pay up, and the iPlayer service is abysmal, then who do you think the consumers are going to call? If there were any doubt, the BBC could insert 15 second clips into their programs telling the consumers that any poor quality was the result of an administrative decision by the ISPs to not allow their product to work as intended.

Re:Huh? (2, Insightful)

Kap'n Koflach (753995) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239411)

It just sounds like a company wants to release a product that only works on Windows, and I'm pretty sure that's been done before.

The difference is that UK citizens are required to pay a licence fee to receive BBC content. It is so difficult for ordinary citizens to get out of paying the licence fee that it is in effect a universal tax. If the BBC then decides to release an MS-only product I (as a UK citizen) am in effect being taxed by the Government to support MS. Regardless of my views on MS, the BBC, etc, this is pretty unacceptable. This is like the BBC releasing content that only works on Sony (for example) televisions.

Re:Huh? (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239645)

That's a pretty silly argument. Is the BBC obligated to buy equal amounts of film from Kodak and Fuji? What about pencils? Paper? Computer hardware? I doubt it.

Re:Huh? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239813)

At least 35mm film is a standard. At least there is a POSSIBILITY of acquiring materials from another supplier.

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239469)

Or is this something that everyone is paying for

Everyone in the UK who has a device, television or otherwise that is capable or recieving television broadcasts is required to pay for a tv liscense where the money goes to the BBC and other broadcasters. If they stream their media with DRM over a format that will work windows only, then they are effectively denying content to linux or mac users, who still pay for the content, but are not able to view it.

that is what the uproar is about....

Re:Huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239959)

So does a computer qualify as a broadcast-receiving device? If so, then I can better understand the uproar- as you shouldn't be forced into a specific type of computer. If not, then it comes across as sour grapes to me. And perhaps the uproar is more about how the license tax is assessed. If I understand correctly, it is a flat tax so whether I have one TV or five TVs I am still assessed the same tax. Are you upset that you have one broadcast-receiving device (one TV) and your neighbor has two (either two TVs or a TV and a laptop with Windows)?

Personally I enjoy BBC so I hope that any restrictions are removed so that I can also cash in.

Simple Answer (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239547)

  1. Everybody in Britain is paying for this content. The license fee payers pay some, but the license fee doesn't cover all of the cost so all taxpayers make up the rest of the cost. (Those who pay the license fee and taxes therefore pay the bulk of the costs.)
  2. The BBC is not regulated by the Government at all - one of its strongest points - but it IS subject to its charter. The charter is The Strong Arm Of The Law, as far as the BBC is concerned. The charter exists for so many years and is then re-negotiated. The charter also protects the BBC - it can be made to do nothing, by the Government or the populace, that violates the charter.

If the DRM, the agreement with Microsoft, or the restriction to a Windows player, is in violation of the charter, the BBC could be hung, drawn and quartered by the courts. If all three are acceptable - or even required - by the charter, then the BBC's legally guaranteed independence and freedom mean there is nothing anybody can do. Anybody. The Prime Minister could beg on his knees or order in the tanks, and it wouldn't do any good.

Re:Huh? (4, Informative)

farmerj (566229) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239549)

The BBC [] is relatively unique as broadcasters go. Unlike most broadcasters its market is not selling air time to advertisers but as a public service broadcaster. There are no outside adverts on the BBC network (though they do advertise their own programmes, similar to other broadcasters).

All funding for the BBC comes from the UK tv licence [] and the sales of programming and other commercial activity (e.g. selling Dr. Who and publishing magazines such as the Radio Times [] )

The BBC is controlled by the BBC Trust (formally the BBC governors) and according to its charter is "free from both political and commercial influence and answers only to its viewers and listeners" []

The BBC added free to air distribution of its programming over satellite in order to provide maximum access to its services to its viewers. One of the side effects of this is that the BBC channels can be received with standard DVB-S equipment across most of western Europe.

This is the reason that people are angry with the iplayer situation. It artificially restricts the service to Windows users and prevents full access by all of the licence paying population of the UK. This is completely the opposite of the satellite case where reception is open to others extremely outside the borders of the UK to ensure that UK licence payers have access to the service (note it is possible to receive this as far away as Bulgaria and beyond, so we are not talking about a small over-spread here!

Re:Huh? (1)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239705)

The BBC is run on the money raised by a television license paid by any person in the UK who has a television in their home, as such you are subsidising it whether you use it or not if you have a television- so it stands to reason it should not be made available only to microsoft customers- these people aren't complaining because they are getting this free, they are complaining because they are subsidising a system being created to be a feather in the cap of microsoft.

Re:Huh? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239785)

I am not a resident or citizen of the UK but I think I know some of the reasons.
1. The BBC is funded by a licenses fee. I know it sounds weird but you have to pay every year just to have a TV that can pick up broadcasts! They have vans that drive around that can detect TVs and such. I saw it many many years ago on an episode of the Young Ones. The concept is totally alien to people in the US but that is how BBC is funded.
2. The BBC is sort of like PBS in the US but much better funded. It is an independent government agency. I am guessing that it is run by the government for the benefit of the people of the UK however it's content is not under government control. The government doesn't decide what news stories are covered or what shows are allowed. This allows the BBC to report things that would embarrass the government without fear of reprisal. This allows the BBC to have it's well deserved reputation for integrity.
3. This new system will not work on the Apple Mac or Linux. So to view this content online you must have a PC running Windows and IE. This probably rubs a lot of people in the UK the wrong way. I can understand why. Let's imagine that somebody want to make a "slingbox" type device in the UK for viewing BBC content. A company in the UK would have to pay an US company to make a device to sell in the UK to watch BBC content.
4. DRM. Just annoying because it prevents people in the UK from downloading a show and putting in on their iPod, notebook, and or Zune.

And the big one.
I don't have to understand. I am not a citizen of the UK so I have no say in this matter. I hope that they choose well and get a system that they like. If it is FOSS and DRM free then I will be pleased because I feel that technically it is a better way to go but in the end it isn't any of my business.

Re:Huh? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239789)

This article has a full description of the OSC's complaints [] . A copy of this article was presented to the BBC Trust by the OSC as background material prior to their meeting.

Re:Huh? (1)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239873)

I am no friend of Microsoft, I've been Linux/BSD only for 10 years and dual booted before that, but that said I do wish the FSF would STFU on this one.

The software is in beta. BETA!

The beeb have said that they will support other platforms, and I'm sure they will, but let them finish their testing before beating up on them for christ's sake.

They have got all sorts of pressures from content owners and probably Equity for repeat fees so they can't just make the thing "open" because you could just bypass the controls.

The thing only allows you to catch up on the last 7 days anyway - if you are geeky enough to run Linux you can get a DVB-T tuner for under 20 quid and run MythTV and get better quality than iPlayer will probably give you.

A Microsoft solution lets them get to 90 of the audience - they can *really* test the networking side of stuff with a known configuration and not have to worry about a handful of crazy Linux users running disparate distros.

Who's to say they are not talking to Microsoft to get the WMV DLLs shipped with a Linux version and link into them? Mplayer seems to do it happily. The BBC are probably one of the few organisations who could get Microsoft to go along with this kind of thing.

For fucks sake I wish people would just shut up and let them get on with their testing. When the full service is running and a few months have gone by and there's still nothing else supported then, fair enough, complain then. But let them finish the beta program at least you petulant bastards.

Encryption (1)

neoform (551705) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239213)

I'm still not totally clear on how ISP's can throttle your bandwidth if you encrypt what you're sending..

Re:Encryption (1)

MenTaLguY (5483) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239279)

In this case, it's a simple matter of giving preferential (or anti-preferential) treatment to traffic from particular IP ranges based on what their owners are willing to pay.

Re:Encryption (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239907)

Combine the encryption with a bittorrent-like protocol, and it will become a practical impossibility for ISPs to do this.

Re:Encryption (1)

nukem996 (624036) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239283)

Basically if consumer A is trying to access files from the BBC make the connection really slow until the BBC pays up. Its why Internet Neutrality is needed.

Re:Encryption (1, Informative)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239299)

Then I guess you've never used tools like "Ethereal" or whatever it's called now.

Run iPlayer. Watch what it talks to in Ethereal.

Download restricted media a bunch of times. Note what servers you download from.

Now on router, throttle all machines that iPlayer talks to down to 3 KB/s.

I dont care about encrypted crap and all. If you use regular IP with TCP (yah, no tunnel blocking and all), I can see your to/from information. I dont care about payload.

Filter it all and let the sysadmin sort it out.

Re:Encryption (1)

click2005 (921437) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239315)

They would probably throttle everything from the BBC assuming they couldn't get the IP addresses of the actual iPlayer servers.
Failing that, they'll just throttle everything thats encrypted (as some ISPs are starting to do to combat P2P) and hope most people
wont notice an encrypted web page being a few secs slower.

Re:Encryption (1)

rsborg (111459) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239317)

I'm still not totally clear on how ISP's can throttle your bandwidth if you encrypt what you're sending..
Port-based traffic shaping will work if the target (say P2P) uses specific ports. You're right if you're talking standards based communications using a common port. But this iPlayer may sadly use a non-standard port, which then clearly identifies their traffic, which can be shaped/throttled.

Re:Encryption (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239371)

To hell with blocking/filtering ports. Just go after their class b/c block.

The whole blocking ports garbage just doesnt work in the real world. I'd just write a program to change local and remote ports and use standard servers to query "locked-in" hosts. Yeah, just like what Kazaa and Skype does.

Re:Encryption (1)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239589)

I'm still not totally clear on how ISP's can throttle your bandwidth if you encrypt what you're sending..

In the case they could just throttle all traffic from the BBC, encryption or no.

Re:Encryption (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239613)

I'm not either. Both the consumer and whoever they are downloading from paid for their connection and paid for an expected speed. It would appear to me that if either of the ISPs did anything to not deliver that expected speed then the consumer if getting hosed.

I don't care about them stopping it from being faster, that isn't the point. When I have a 3 meg download speed and the BBC has a three meg upload, any actions outside built in limitations(and not manipulated by the ISP) of the hardware or software being used that restricts it to a slower speed is ripping me off as well as ripping the BBC off.

Doesn't consumer protection laws already cover companies selling stuff and then not delivering on purpose?. It seems to me this should already be illegal. Maybe we need to make some accusations of the limiting and then look at what recourse the laws provide. I bet it is enough that it would be more then what each customer pays in a month. If every customer complained and file for action, It wold turn around.

Re:Encryption (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239819)

With ISPs threatening to throttle the content delivered through the iPlayer..
Does anyone still need to be convinced that we need to have Net Neutrality laws?

Nice! (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239289)

Well done everyone who participated in the fight against Digital Restrictions Management. Looks like there is really much protest and I hope the BBC will change to free formats. :)

Re:Nice! (1)

CopaceticOpus (965603) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239359)

Agreed. Over and over I've seen the argument on /. that the common consumer can't understand or doesn't care about DRM issues. But here we see an example that the message is actually getting through and the debate is becoming mainstream.

Re:Nice! (1)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239711)

Well, all it would take is MS's own operating systems to show the general public what it is about and how it is bad.

I just reloaded a viris infested laptop that had about 300 different albums on ripped to it from WMP. After everything was back up and running, I restored backups and none of the songs would play because the license files (from the WMP's protect your content tab) had been updated before the problems and the backup file was the wrong one.

Now here is a 19 year old girl going off to college with tons of music she cannot play unless she deletes and starts over. I know she isn't the first one to get bit like this and she won't be the last. MS's buggyness and ability to attract pests is a big incentive against DRM in itself. They are shooting themselves in their own foot with it. It only takes once and people are wise about it.

I wonder how many protesters that showed up were people Bitten like this too and the experience woke them up?

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239427)

But this is a case where we don't want a free format. The UK does not want this content being used by non-UK people, we paid for it and it's our content not yours.

Ideally, the iPlayer should work on Linux, OS X as well as Windows, but the UK public does not care too much about this, although this case will bring it to light.

The issue has been confused by the non-DRM folk. The BBC, quite rightly, want to restrict the content to UK only, basically they should give up the iPlayer and internet and make the iPlayer technology work with Freeview digital interactive and with the Cable companies instead. That would obviate the need for DRM & web technologies.

Re:Nice! (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239917)

The BBC don't want to restrict it - the content owners do. They tried the same thing with the digital satellite transfer, but then, the BBC actually followed their charter. According to Wikipedia, this is what the current BBC trust says:

The BBC Trust works on behalf of licence fee payers: it ensures the BBC provides high quality output and good value for all UK citizens and it protects the independence of the BBC.
Note the part that says on behalf of licence fee payers . Not on behalf of content providers. Note also the part about protects the independence of the BBC.

Re:Nice! (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239579)

Offering non-DRM would just make the bandwidth problem even worse, which is already a problem with the ISPs.

Ultimately there is a cost benefit decision to me made, and they also have to take in account all the people paying the license fee who would rather their money be spent somewhere else to begin with.

A bit OTT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239327)

It is all a bit OTT. This is the same organisation that has created, freely licensed, and is working on Dirac - and when doing news pieces on technology actually have the courtesy to mention non-MS products such as Firefox, Linux, Openoffice etc - we hardly have some corporation that is part of a MS love in.

They have said they are working to make non windows versions - it is simply a case that the windows version is there first (because the technology is all off the shelf).

ISP's moaning - oh well there's a surprise - this is a group of people who want to charge as much as possible for their customers to use their product as little as possible.

As for the DRM - if their was a guarantee that the content wouldn't spread beyond the UK I don't think it would be there. BBC world the commercial arm wants to make money from international sales. If that one can be solved then the DRM would likely disappear. I do object to DRM - I don't object to its use if that means folks in the UK are paying £140 a year to fund TV that others in the rest of the world are watching at full SD/HD resolution for absolutely free.

Re:A bit OTT (1)

Creepy Crawler (680178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239491)

After watching some of their documentaries and interesting content, I (as a US citizen) would be willing to pay the British TV-Tax if I could access an unencumbered SD/HD version of the shows they make.

If they don't do that, Ill just bittorrent them anyways. I'm not going to buy crippled software/media when the thieves can provide better for free.

To me, freedom matters more than cost. Capitalism at its finest.

Re:A bit OTT (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239539)

The BBC are quite good when it comes to open formats and open standards. The BBC is not being criticised in general. just this very specific decision. It's heading away from the openness that it should be promoting.

It makes no difference to me whether other people are getting our BBC for free. I've already paid for it and I've used it. I don't need it any more, everyone else can have it. Perhaps the BBC do want to make money from international sales. I have no objection over this as long as it doesn't inconvenience me. But this does inconvenience me. Aside from this, the DRM is pointless. The organisation is already broadcasting unencrypted MPEG 2 streams that can easily be captured directly by any home computer with a cheap USB DVB receiver.

No Difference (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239347)

It continues to amaze me that there are still those among us that have yet to realize that there is no difference between "copy protection" and "read protection".

so don't offer it at all. (1)

Animaether (411575) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239351)

seriously, BBC.. unless the government is twisting your arm to offer your programs online while saying that only UKians should be able to view it for free and the populace complaining that the player won't work on their operating systems and companies telling you to pony up for the bandwidth costs... why don't you just tell them all "screw it, then"; and not offer it at all. There. Everybody happy.

Re:so don't offer it at all. (1)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239471)

Well... except for all the people who were hoping to have access to the content.

Re:so don't offer it at all. (2, Insightful)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239559)

Thing is, only UKians as you put it, pay for the BBC. And we have to. No choice in the matter, if you want a TV in this country you have to pay "licence fee". That fee funds the BBC. They make some cash from overseas sales, syndication etc. but about 95% of their budget comes from the fee paying public. Because we have no choice in the matter, it's not like, say, Sky, who people can choose to receive or not. As such, it puts the onus on them to allow all UK licence payers a way to access the programming they've paid for. The web was made for this kinda thing. If only they'd use their own codec (they've been making one for years), a fairly simple DRM system (sadly a legal necessity given the distribution deals they have overseas) and then release it for all major OS's and whatnot, we'd be just dandy (except the ISP's who can quite frankly go fuck 'emselves. I pay for 4MB access. Not 4MB access for-half-an-hour-till-i've-used-up-the-bandwidth or 4MB access as-long-as-it's-with-the-ISP's-content). But no, they code a terribly shitty system, that locks into a really oppressive OS that only some people can/want to use. No wonder people are pissed.

Re:so don't offer it at all. (1)

MontyApollo (849862) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239729)

It seems like they took the easiest and cheapest approach, which seems reasonable to begin with to see what the demand really will be. Don't people complain about the licence fee because they say they never watch the BBC to begin with? Now they have to pay for internet (not even tv) access to shows they never watch. Maybe they should charge a license fee for computers instead, and make it large enough to cover all the cross-development expenses and the ISP bandwidth expenses while they are at it.

If the requirement is that they have to keep everyone happy, and it costs too much to do that, then saying "screw it" and doing nothing seems like the logical conclusion.

Re:so don't offer it at all. (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239845)

seriously, BBC.. unless the government is twisting your arm to offer your programs online while saying that only UKians should be able to view it for free and the populace complaining that the player won't work on their operating systems and companies telling you to pony up for the bandwidth costs... why don't you just tell them all "screw it, then"; and not offer it at all. There. Everybody happy.
Do it wrong or don't do it at all!

Re:so don't offer it at all. (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239897)

The public are clamouring for something. The BBC exists to serve the public interest. The BBC isn't giong to choose not to commit to its primary purpose just because it's a hassle. If they did that what would be the point of the organisation?

This isn't a Net Neutrality Issue (1)

MBraynard (653724) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239357)

Net Neutrality is usually a reference to limiting bandwidth of a competitor or a competing service.

The UK ISPs point isn't about limiting services, it is a fear about the sheer bandwidth of the BBC's peer-to-peer system slowing down the net for all of the consumers. Sure, BBC can distribute it's content through it's own bandwidth that it pays for - fair. The UK ISPS say it is unfair for the BBC to profit from and use the ISP's customers' bandwidth to distribute the content.

P2P bandwidth issues are becoming a severe issue for ISPs and may, on a technical legal issue, violate the terms of service (love it or hate it - don't expect or demand more than you are agreeing to pay for. If you don't like it - start your own ISP with no restrictions and see how far that gets you.)

BBC is getting singled out because it's one clear and large profit-driven business that is using P2P - not something you can say about torrent sharing sites.

The street protests are just stupid mobs getting far more publicity than their point of view deserves. Pay it no mind.

Between the consumers, the BBC, and the ISPs, a market solution will likely solve the issue in favor of the consumers.

Re:This isn't a Net Neutrality Issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239985)

But we already pay based on amount of bandwidth. Why should it be the ISPs business what I do with my bandwidth whether it's for P2P or not. ISPs are only complaining because with P2P, people are actually starting to really use the bandwidth that they supposedly paid for.
ISP: Oh no, we can't actually have our users use all the bandwidth we promised them!

I can't even get the bloody thing to work (4, Interesting)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239377)

Aside from insisting you have XP and IE (Vista W2K or any other OS won't do nor any other browser), the thing doesn't even work when I install the proper software. I can see the listings but no download button. The thing is a mess with DRM wrapper files, horribly complicated, broken & proprietary HTML/JS driving it all, and a standalone downloader that automatically runs at startup with no obvious way to stop this behaviour. It really is an overly complicated and broken mess.

While I recognize their desire to protect their content, I wonder what the hell made them choose this pig's dinner of a solution.

They would be better off to deliver watermarked content in an open format such as H264 that plays just about anywhere. They could require users to register their TV licence in order to get the service, after which they can use it from any OS or browser within reasonable restrictions. Basically people should be able to do what they like with the content, short of sharing it. If they share it, use the watermark to look-up their address and send the heavies round.

What Happened? (3, Informative)

organgtool (966989) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239437)

A few years ago, the BBC seemed to be keen on the idea of releasing content in Ogg/Theora. Then they wanted to help develop and use the Dirac [] codec. And now they want to use a DRM-encumbered Microsoft codec.

This is an interesting situation because of the BBC's role as a "state-owned but independent corporation" [] . I skimmed the Wikipedia article and it appears that the BBC is a for-profit corporation, but the fact that it's state-owned leads me to believe that its funded by taxpayers. If that is the case, why should taxpayers have to pay for DRM-infested media that was sponsored by their tax money?

Re: Erik Huggers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239501)

A few questions:
* Were the decisions to enter into the BBC/MS MOU and iPlayer deal taken before or after the decision to employ Erik Huggers and by how long?
* Did MS encourage Erik Huggers to take his position at the BBC or encourage the BBC to employ him?
* To what extent did Mr.Huggers influence these decisions?
* Does Mr.Huggers directly or indirectly (for example via trust, family or fund ownership) hold any MS stock or other financial interest in MS or affilliated companies from which benefit could have been gained as a result of these dealings between the BBC and MS?
* If such interests are held will the BBC please disclose them in the public interest?
* What oversight is or has been in place to ensure the dealings in relation to this matter were conducted with the integrity that the public has a right to expect from the BBC?
* Has the BBC or any employee or contractor of the BBC with involvement in this project received any hospitality, gifts or concessions from MS? If so please disclose the extent of these.
I have posted this anonymously because I have a potential commercial relationship with the BBC and do not wish to prejudice it.

Re:What Happened? (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239659)

The BBC is for profit in the sense that any money it makes from sales gets ploughed back into programme making. I think they're trying to be more commercial overseas so that they don't have to keep asking for the TV licence to be hiked.

Re:What Happened? (1)

cyborg_zx (893396) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239939)

Actually the BBC has a for-profit arm that handles that: BBC Worldwide.

Re:What Happened? (1)

shish (588640) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239721)

A few years ago, the BBC seemed to be keen on the idea of releasing content in Ogg/Theora. Then they wanted to help develop and use the Dirac codec. And now they want to use a DRM-encumbered Microsoft codec.
The BBC is a freaking huge organisation, I would think it possible that they have two separate departments :P

Re:What Happened? (4, Insightful)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239753)

Actually, there is no reason they couldn't use Ogg/Theora/Dirac as a WMP plugin. The DRM is a wrapped around the file and independent from the codec used.

If that is the case, why should taxpayers have to pay for DRM-infested media that was sponsored by their tax money?

The problem is why should UK taxpayers pay for people in other countries to have free media that they didn't pay for?

Re:What Happened? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20240009)

"... the fact that it's state-owned leads me to believe that its funded by taxpayers."

Not state-owned: it has a charter. And it's not funded from taxes. However, it is funded from a compulsory television licence fee ... which comes to much the same thing: []

In effect, it is the only private organization in the UK that gets to levy taxation. (Strictly speaking, it doesn't levy it, but it gets all the money that's levied.)

I live in England, and if I owned a telly, which I don't, I'd have to buy a licence even if I only watched non-BBC channels and pre-recorded DVDs, and that would cost me some $270 in your money every year.

Since I use Macs and Linux, if I were paying that, I'd be extremely pissed off at paying for the cosy little relationship that the BBC and Microsoft have.

Net neutrality no threat to the BBC (3, Insightful)

also-rr (980579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239513)

If you want a current example from the _very same market_ in the UK (TV watchers) then glance your eye over Sky vs Virgin.

The number one non-over-the-air channel, Sky One, is owned by the same people who own the satellite broadcast system. (In the UK TV service to households with reasonable disposable income is, or was, split into cable vs satellite. Over the air is probably more common but not really in the same market. Outside London there are no real alternatives yet.)

Sky have denied the Sky One (and a few other not very interesting channels) license to Virgin. This has resulted in a massive exodus from cable. As a TV watching friend of mine pointed out "it's not worth the grief from the missus - and the kids would yell at me too". My choice would have been emigration without kids or wife, but he chose to switch to Satellite/Sky instead.

What does this have to do with internet TV, which has no presence yet to be missed? Well, the BBC has a tendency to plug new services endlessly on their channels. There is no one in the UK who doesn't hear or see something from the BBC every single week. Computer penetration is also very high, it's a small island so broadband is readily available too (cable and DSL, the latter from a number of ISPs). Even the people who won't see TV adverts listen to Radio 4 (available over the internet for free - give it a go! - especially the comedy) giving them a direct and unique line to highly educated and very powerful people.

So, a large number of people who have already shown that TV is important enough to make them pick up the phone, will get bombarded with adverts for a new service that they can probably access. Until they get home and try to get to it and see:

The BBC can't give you access to the iPlayer because unlike every reputable ISP yours is trying to charge you extra and we said we wouldn't be part of it. Here is a list of ISPs, that you probably can switch to with a single phone call, that are doing the right thing.

Even if the ISP blocks the error page the cost of handling the phone calls to customer support *alone* will probably make the whole thing impossible to maintain for very long.

Now, it won't come to this. A backroom deal will be cut and the whole thing will go away - precisely because the ISPs have no possible way to win.

Re:Net neutrality no threat to the BBC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239605)

>This has resulted in a massive exodus from cable

That just isn't true.
Sky One is pretty crap anyway, filled with junk.
I doubt anyone cares.

The real issue is.. (1, Flamebait)

beldraen (94534) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239515)

Wow. BBC is having street protests? And, this is over a media player? The U.S. invades Iraq on dubious grounds, without warrant wiretaps its people, and suspends the constitution, and what does the people of the United.. OOOOohhhh.. MSNBC says Brittany is being a bad mother and Kevin is being a good guy;although, it may be a shame just to get more money from her. Back in a few minutes.

Re:The real issue is.. (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239893)

Well, I thought that was funny, even if a mod thought it was 'troll'. The mod probably didn't get your point.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go and protest against the expansion of Heathrow airport [] .

Re:The real issue is.. (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239953)

In case it wasn't covered on the news channels you watch, roughly one million people (around 2% of the UK population) took to the streets of London to protest against the invasion of Iraq before it happened.

Re:The real issue is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239969)

Please, go kill your self

pissed off (3, Insightful)

Gearoid_Murphy (976819) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239521)

this is so completely wrong. The ISPs are selling people bandwidth that actually isn't there. You might have dozens of people running off a pipe a few 10s of megs wide but each person is being charged for the bandwidth of a 5-10 megs. this is referred to as the contention ratio of the channel. However, when people go to actually use the bandwidth they were sold, the ISPs recoil in horror and demand that they be paid to upgrade their networks to a capacity that they are already charging people for. Mutherfuckers

To all the protestors: (0, Troll)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239603)

If you don't like it, stop watching the BBC and watch something else that has DRM free (as in beer) content on their website. Nobody is forcing anyone to watch content produced by the BBC. They do have some good programming. I'm kinda disappointed in them but I'm not about to get out the torch and pitchfork over it.

Re:To all the protestors: (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239685)

Nobody is forcing anyone to watch content produced by the BBC

No, but they are forcing me to pay for it. And I damned well want to use it if so.


Re:To all the protestors: (1)

helicon_00 (979665) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239809)

Easy on the hate....

I am not stating nothing new, plenty of previous post, state a similar comment, therefore as plainly as possible, the ruckus is that BBC content is in part funded for, via taxes, therefore their, UK citizens, complain is that the BBC's implementation poses an implied double tax to UK viewers; due to limited OS and Media Player availability.

With all good intentions there is an implied test of due diligence that your implementation will be equitable to all; problem is that is rarely possible.

Re:To all the protestors: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20239839)

We want it. its ours. We've paid for it, so they can damn well give it to us!

There is no uproar (0, Flamebait)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239669)

I live in the UK. Quite a lot of my relatives and friends know about iPlayer. None of them know of this "uproar". DefectiveByDesign's website looks cheap and tacky, and they seem to be a mostly US group. The BBC has said multiple times that they intend to support other OSes in time. The main reason they aren't is a lack of DRM on those other platforms.

Non-UK groups, like the FSF, saying "Give us free unprotected content" is pointless. Many people in the UK want the DRM, so the BBC can make money selling their programs abroad.

Re:There is no uproar (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239899)

Many people in the UK want the DRM, so the BBC can make money selling their programs abroad.
Many people in the UK are idiots then. That snake oil will only cost the BBC money, it will not magically boost export sales.

Re:There is no uproar (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239949)

Many, eh? I bet you wouldn't be able to find a handful? Why would the average Brit care whether or not the BBC can make a little bit more money when they've already got their hands in everyone's pockets.

This is PUBLIC television we're talking about here.

Re:There is no uproar (1)

Drachemorder (549870) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239987)

"The main reason they aren't is a lack of DRM on those other platforms."
That's exactly what we find unacceptable: denying access because of a lack of DRM. It's explicit proof of why we hate DRM so much, because it interferes with the ability of legitimate users to get access to something.

They should just launch the dam thing! (1)

el_monkeyo (848901) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239955)

I really don't see what the problem with launching the iPlayer using M$ software is, the BBC have a way of distributing their content to the vast majority of licence paying computer users right now, and the BBC Trust have said "the broadcaster must open up the iPlayer as soon as possible and plans to review progress every six months" ( [] ).

Sure, it may have been better to use Flash Video (but certainly not RealPlayer or Quicktime), but in reality the percentage of licence payers who don't have access to a Windows P.C. is small enough that can get the iPlayer up and running to the vast majority now, and fill in the gaps later. They have made attempts to make their own open format ( [] ), but obviously it's nowhere near ready for large scale use, so why not use something that is ready now?

The idea that the BBC is going to start releasing their content in a DRM free format is totally absurd, given that they make a sizeable portion of their income selling it to other broadcasters and releasing DVD box sets. If you can watch DRM "infected" media, then you can probably crack it, but the BBC a hardly likely to give away their content in a format that can go straight onto a P2P network. And why should U.K. licence payers fund the Worlds entertainment anyway?

I also think the ISP think will blow over, as the BBC are working with Virgin Media (the U.K.'s cable T.V. provider and largest home ISP) to bring the iPlayer to cable TV. I'm sure the other ISPs will think again when their biggest competitor starts making a big deal about their unrestricted access to iPlayer content.

I think they should launch it not, and not let a few whiners ruin it for everyone else

DRM is a Non Issue - Just Don't use it (2, Insightful)

Junior Samples (550792) | more than 6 years ago | (#20239965)

I download the BBC programming that I want to watch with Azureus an hour after it airs in the UK and watch it shortly after using VLC on my PC. Sometimes I'll burn a DVD and watch it on my TV. The quality is excellent.

Alternatively I can catch the programming 6 months to a year later on BBC America or the SciFi Channel with commercials and reduced resolution.

Whatever they do on their web site is a non-issue, although I'm a bit annoyed that I have to use a UK based proxy server to access some of the program guides.
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