17 December 2007

Can the BBC Trust Butter Some Parsnips?

The Open Source Consortium has prodded the BBC Trust into words, if not action:

The BBC Trust and the Open Source Consortium (OSC) have agreed the promotion of Microsoft by the BBC should end. After a meeting with the OSC, the BBC Trust restated its commitment to a platform agnostic solution for the iPlayer's catch-up service and agreed that the recently launched streaming service was only an interim solution.

The main credit for this should go to the OSC's indefatigable boss, who explained what remains to be done:

Mark Taylor, President of the Open Source Consortium, said: “We are pleased that the BBC Trust continues to engage with us and take our concerns seriously. The seven-day streaming service is elegant and attractive, and most importantly, can be used on any computer and most mobile devices without unnecessary concern with technology. Instead consumers can choose on the more important criteria of price and performance.

“However we remain concerned that the 30 day catch-up service is exclusively provided only for newer versions of Microsoft operating systems and are pleased that the BBC Trust continues to share our concern that iPlayer be made technology agnostic at the earliest opportunity.

“Thanks to the BBC Trust's intervention we met BBC management to outline how they could deliver an open iPlayer that would meet all rights holders concerns. We think it would be easily possible to use the BBC's existing, world leading Free Software solutions in an open iPlayer. We sincerely hope that the BBC will take this further."

This does matter, because if the catch-up service remains Windows only, it turns the BBC into a vector of Microsoft's DRM and products - hardly what the public broadcaster should be doing.

Moreover, fine words butter no parsnips: can we trust the BBC Trust to follow through on this? If they don't, at least we can be sure that the OSC will be there with a sharp stick goading them to do so.

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