BBC slammed for Microsoft lock-in

The Open Source Consortium (OSC) has slammed the BBC after the news site announced that it plans to lock online TV viewers to Microsoft Windows. The BBC already has an agreement with Real over use of its RealPlayer software for radio broadcasting. The announcement of a tie in with Microsoft will be a boost to the company's visibility as the company is heavily investing in online TV for its worldwide audience. The OSC believes this is anti-competitive, and would be in breach of the broadcaster's charter by using public funds to develop and promote the service.

OSC chief executive Iain Roberts said: "Our members are competing hard in a fast-moving market and winning new customers every day. Seeing their licence fee going to advertise one of their largest competitors is not acceptable, especially from the BBC which has a duty to be unbiased. We want the BBC to reject any moves that restrict consumer choice."

News source: vnunet.com

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majortom1981 said,
The bbc clearly states that if other players can play windows media streams and can handle the drm then they can be used no matter what operating system.

And that isn't locking people to Windows? I'm sure Microsoft would happily license the necessary information to a company making a player for Linux

majortom1981 said,
My point is though is the bbc is not LOCKING people into windows. This is just lies . The bbc clearly states that if other players can play windows media streams and can handle the drm then they can be used no matter what operating system.

The problem is that Microsoft are not all that friendly with how they license their formats. For this to be implemented on another platform a company would have to pay royalties to Microsoft. Why should you have to pay twice for something?

edgrale said,

And that isn't locking people to Windows? I'm sure Microsoft would happily license the necessary information to a company making a player for Linux ;)


No they won't. They'll license the WMA/WMV formats, but when it comes to the DRM, they won't license any general computing platform. Linspire tried already, but were refused (although they did get license the regular WMA/WMV formats). So by using MS's DRM, your only option is Windows.

majortom1981 said,
Why must this site post articles that bash windows and not check that the article is actually acurate.

Microsoft fanbois sure are paranoid. Where does it bash windows? It is 'bashing' the BBC...

Oh noes, the OSC is mad. FFS.

Mac OSX can view the content, Windows can view the content. So who gives a **** about 0.006% of home users otherwise.

If you were part of the 0.006% users who were FORCED to pay for this service you would be a little annoyed. That is like saying the 0.006% of users with a specific make of TV can't watch BBC channels yet still charge them for a TV license.

SiDEBURNS said,

Your NOT forced to pay for the TV license.

Please show me a way to own a TV in the UK without having to pay for a TV license. Sadly you can't. Not only do I not watch BBC I do not even have an ariel on my house and only use Sky (which I pay for separately). Ergo I AM forced to pay for a license which I do not benefit from. Should I choose not to own a TV (which I did for several months a few years ago) I can avoid paying the license (and rightly so) however I was accused of breaking the law twice because "everyone owns a TV".

SiDEBURNS said,

Your NOT forced to pay for the TV license.


You are if you want to watch TV in the UK, unless your TV/computer runs off its own power supply (ie, you can't watch TV on your laptop if it's plugged in at the same time)

Them's the rules...

Septimus said,
Oh noes, the OSC is mad. FFS.

Mac OSX can view the content, Windows can view the content. So who gives a **** about 0.006% of home users otherwise.

No OS/x can't play the content because of the DRM. This means it 100% windows only.

deadmonkey said,

Please show me a way to own a TV in the UK without having to pay for a TV license. Sadly you can't. Not only do I not watch BBC I do not even have an ariel on my house and only use Sky (which I pay for separately). Ergo I AM forced to pay for a license which I do not benefit from. Should I choose not to own a TV (which I did for several months a few years ago) I can avoid paying the license (and rightly so) however I was accused of breaking the law twice because "everyone owns a TV".

You are allowed to own a TV as long as you don't use it to receive a tv signal (ie plug an aerial into it).
If you have a tv just for use with a dvd player or console, then thats perfectly fine and you need not pay the fee.

Sky is a different matter, as you're still receiving the channels that are payed for by having a TV license (the BBC ones).

Linux community wants, everything in the world is FREE. they just don't want to understand this fact. thats the problem.

You misunderstand what is being asked. Sure some people want everything free and open, however that isn't going to work for everything. What I want is to be able to use the platform of my choice to watch what I have already paid for. The problem is Windows users would get the same thing for free (essentially as they have already purchased a copy of Windows). If the BBC were to produce their own player and charge for it I would be more than happy to pay, providing they charged all platforms. I would be even happier if they produced a player for each platform and gave it away free, though wouldn't everyone

The BBC Trust made a statement on the 31-01-2007

In this statement, the following was said:
"Platform-agnostic approach: As proposed, the TV catch-up service on the internet relies on Microsoft technology for the digital rights management (DRM) framework. The Trust will require the BBC Executive to adopt a platform-agnostic approach within a reasonable time frame. This requires the BBC to develop an alternative DRM framework to enable users of other technology, for example, Apple and Linux, to access the on-demand services."
Source: BBC Trust

My question is: What do the BBC class as a reasonable time frame?

My other question is: Why have the OSC neglected to take this into Consideration before blasting the BBC - If the BBC had straight up said "No, we refuse to make it compatible with anything except a new version of Windows", then yeah, I could understand it, and being an OSX user myself, and a British License Payer myself, I would be furious ... But this is not the case. If I also had to buy software to watch it too, I also would not be happy.. If they provided a free Codec to watch the content, then yes, I would be happy.

I think VNU (the source) have got confused too.. what the hell has it got to do with BT?
"The Trust decided that BT's proposed iPlayer service would be of value to the public as patterns of media consumption shift from linear broadcast to on-demand viewing." LOL

As for what someone said above about watching free TV - I really doubt you will be able to - They will probably adopt the same technology as Sky, where if you aren't a registered user (i.e. hold an account - whether that be a t.v. license [with a unique ID on the license], or a viewing account), you can't get access to the service.

I dont see any problem now reading more on it.

With the BBC stating that Windows Media Player 10 with XP (and Vista I assume) are the only systems at present that support the required DRM and that when alternatives become available they will use them to ensure every OS is useable.

So all those Linux users that want it badly, why dont you code a decent DRM format / system for your OS?

Don't agree with DRM, well you got no choice at present but thats another issue.

BBC says DRM is needed, and only Microsoft to date have the DRM thats required. Seems they had no choice and Apple users can only complain at Apple and Linux users better start coding.

If they would only do away with RealPlayer completely I would be happier. I am no fan of DRM, but people need to quit whining about their decision. They have you in mind Linux users, so don't lose your head as it's only tv.

Well, the BBC have been aware of the "lock in" they were creating for ages. I've spoken to various people who work at the BBC over the last couple of years, some of who own Macs, most of whom are techie people and they've all said that the BBC doesn't care about the fact that they're locking people in and are ignoring the minority of licence payers.

Well, I imagine there will be a lot of complaints once the software is released later this year, if it doesn't have Mac support.

I'm generally very supportive of the BBC, but this is one thing that annoys me!

Clearly, nobody here has a clue!

The DRM thing is not limiting what UK citizens can see, it is PREVENTING non-UK citizens (such as myself) from viewing content broadcast over the Internet. DRM allows geographic and time content blocking. In other words, I will either have to reconfigure my XP to be using UK-English all over the place (including time) to mascarade as an UK user, or I must use a reliable non-XP machine that supports the same DRM requirements of locking non-UK citizens out.

Simple. Americans are NOT privy to BBC content, and this decision reinforces such.

The BBC is funded through a tax called the TV license which every UK household must pay if they own a TV. Why should Americans have access to BBC programmes for free and without ads, when British and Irish people have to fund the programmes through a tax?

The BBC will be launching a service for non-UK residents where their programmes are supported by ads. You'll get that and you should be happy we give you that much.

kronix2 said,
The BBC is funded through a tax called the TV license which every UK household must pay if they own a TV. Why should Americans have access to BBC programmes for free and without ads, when British and Irish people have to fund the programmes through a tax?

The BBC will be launching a service for non-UK residents where their programmes are supported by ads. You'll get that and you should be happy we give you that much.

Hmm, arrogant much? I didn't notice the OP suggesting that non-UK residents *should* have access to all the BBC's content... you're picking a fight where there was none, and doing so in a singularly up-yer-own-arse manner. Kudos.

To the OP: I suspect switching your Windows settings won't help much. The checks are probably based on your IP address, like those that prevent software containing SSL (or other strong encryption tech) being directly downloaded from the US because of export restrictions.

Bear in mind that every TV owner in the UK has to pay a tax which funds the BBC. The DRM is there to prevent users from sharing the programmes on p2p networks for non-UK residents. Considering there's a separate service for non-UK residents, I think this is reasonable.

It reminds me how people have their site blocking IE-users from viewing their sites and force them to use Firefox~

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