30 April 2008

Has the BBC Duped Us over iPlayer?

You may remember that a little while back there was a bit of a kerfuffle about the BBC's decision to go with a Microsoft-based DRM solution for its download service. Initially we were told that only six people and a couple of mangy dogs ever accessed BBC sites with GNU/Linux, and therefore it wasn't worth supporting, but the BBC later admitted that what they really meant was that the audience ran to six *figures*. The story then was: trust us, we'll get round to GNU/Linux support as soon as we can. And you know what? Silly old me believed them.

So what do we have here?

Today was a big day for BBC iPlayer: it's the day that it first became available on a portable device. BBCiPlayer is now available on iPhone and iPod touch.

Really groovy. Er, now could we have GNU/Linux, please?

Then this:

If you have a Nintendo Wii, it's already connected to your TV, and now you can play iPlayer programmes directly on your Wii.

Amazing. But what about the GNU/Linux you promised?

And now we have this:

Today is another significant day for BBC iPlayer as it launches on its first TV platform: Virgin Media.

Totally far-out, man. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BLOODY GNU/LINUX VERSION?

I wonder how that complaint about the BBC providing state aid to Microsoft is coming along....

18 comments:

Jono said...

Linux users can use the same version that Mac users can, and that most Windows users of the iPlayer use - the Flash version. The iPhone and Wii versions were relatively trivial for them to introduce - the big work for both simply required that the programmes be encoded with a different codec.

As long as they have to continue using DRM, even if/when they eventually release a native Linux app, people still wont be happy.

glyn moody said...

Well, yes, but that's only the streaming version. They still haven't produced the download version for GNU/Linux, as they promised they would.

As for DRM, you're right, some won't be happy with native GNU/Linux versions with DRM, but at least they'll have the *option* of downloading, which they don't at the moment.

Jono said...

Did they really promise a download version that works on GNU/Linux? I honestly can't remember. Is it not possible that you interpreted them saying that GNU/Linux support would be forthcoming as referring to a download version, because at that time the only version available was the Windows download version?

glyn moody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
glyn moody said...

Here it is from :

"The BBC Trust is committed to a platform agnostic solution for the TV catch-up service on BBC iPlayer - as specified in the On-demand Services PVT. The Trust received a platform neutrality report from BBC management in November 2007. The Trust is satisfied that progress has been made towards achieving platform neutrality for the TV catch-up service. The Trust notes that a streaming solution has been implemented, which will be a partial solution to the issues. The Trust welcomes the addition of streaming functionality, but remains committed to the TV catch-up service being delivered as a platform agnostic application within a reasonable timeframe. Management will present their next report to theTrust in Spring 2008."

glyn moody said...

Sorry about the ridiculous formatting above - Blogger's fault, not mine....

Jono said...

Ah, Ok, I didn't remember seeing it in quite those terms before.

glyn moody said...

That's why I think it is important to hold their feet to the fire, periodically - just to remind them....

Bods said...

If it's any consolation, the Virgin Media version has been built by a different department to the internet/Wii/iPhone versions.

I work in that group (the TV Platforms Group - didn't work on iPlayer myself) and by that name, you might figure we do TV stuff only :)

glyn moody said...

Not a consolation, but interesting - thanks.

Bods said...

By consolation it's a sort of "it hasn't delayed any further development on a Linux download service" :)

glyn moody said...

Well, that's one way of looking at it, yes....

jeyaganesh rajamanickam said...

BBC always support Microsoft. 1.You can see their news on every month second tuesday about new upgrade from Microsoft. 2. They always give importance to Microsoft news. They even didnt mention the announcement of iPhone news on that macworld evening event. They put that news on the next morning only while all news website including Reuters put that news in few minutes of its announcement. 3. You ever seen a BBC news reader using Mac? They mostly use Dell.

Sarah said...

You can't really delay something that neither exists or is in production. I'd say the BBC lied or are being 'duplicitous'. After all only 400 people a year running Linux visit the BBC's website remember.... right.

Actually scratch the 'duplicitous' yeah lets just go with 'lied', it's a simpler word and better conveys their actions or lack thereof.

Daveleh said...

itv.com are the same. If you try to use their 'catchup' service the video shows but when you try to start it you get told you need to download Microsoft Silverlight - whatever that is!

I have sent ITV an email about this - why they cant support open standards over an oopen standard medium - but so far havent received a response

And as for the BBC it annoys me that they are discriminating against some of their legal license payers who dont use MS software but allowing access to people from abroad who dont pay the license fee but use MS software!

Regards

Dave Le Huray

Gary said...

You do not need to wait for the BBC to do the right thing.

A programmer,Paul Battley, has written a Ruby script that uses the DRM loophole to download any programme form the BBC's iPlayer. The DRM is stripped out and you can keep it for as long as you like - and even transfer them to a removable device.

I know. I've been using the script for some time now. In fact, I interviewed Paul about this script for Freesoftware Magazine and you can read his thoughts and reasons (and get the link to his website for that script) here

Anonymous said...

The BBC are a 21st century inquisition...there only interest is the licence fee and prosecuting poor people for it,it is well documented that they will stop at nothing to get decent folks money...I hate them.

glyn moody said...

Thanks for all the comments. It's interesting the passion that the BBC arouses these days - unfortunately, it's the wrong kind of passion.

Sad.