BBC Trust to hear open sourcers' iPlayer gripes

Microsoft-only launch weeks away

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Exclusive The BBC Trust has asked to meet open source advocates to discuss their complaints over the corporation's Windows-only on demand broadband TV service, iPlayer.

The development came less than 48 hours after a meeting between the Open Source Consortium (OSC) and regulators at Ofcom on Tuesday. Officials agreed to press the trust, the BBC's governing body, to meet the OSC. The consortium received an invitation on Wednesday afternoon.

Ofcom is also liaising with the Office of Fair Trading, which is responsible for maintaining competitiveness in UK markets.

Sources at the regulator told The Register that although its formal role in the process was completed when it delivered its market impact assessment in January, it felt the OSC's concerns that Mac and Linux users will not have access to iPlayer demanded a hearing.

Before the trust got in touch on Wednesday, OSC CEO Rick Timmis said: "Everything we've done in the trust's direction has fallen on deaf ears. They've completely ignored us."

Ofcom's intervention could help avoid an embarrassing clash in Europe. As we reported last month, the OSC has threatened to take its anti-trust concerns to the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg, which adjudicates on competition.

The group has taken legal advice and drafted a letter which would initiate proceedings, but has not yet sent it.

The trust included Ofcom's evidence in its public value test, which gave the project the green light at the end of April. The trust's current position on interoperability is "monitoring progress on a six monthly basis".

The OSC hopes to present the trust with an alternative future which would answer all the DRM requirements of the BBC's content partners while making the service available across platforms. It has held meetings with development partners who have pledged engineering time.

The Windows XP-only, Internet Explorer-only iPlayer enters public beta testing on 27 July. ®

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