BBC Trust to hear open sourcers' iPlayer gripes
Microsoft-only launch weeks away
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. ®
I dunno if anyone is still reading this, but...
Craig wrote: "A J Stiles Wrote: To the best of my knowledge, anybody can purchase the necessary parts and schematics to build a digital TV receiver.
This is why its pointless making logical arguments against some people.
Honestly! Who in actual fact is going to do that?"
It's not so much that people can build their own aerials/receivers, its the fact that they are permitted to either do it themselves or engage someone to do it for them (i.e. an aerial contractor). This is the analogy of the BBC using a standard open format.
With the BBC using the closed format they currently have a solution, not only is the source code closed (i.e. not available to anyone to modify), but the format itself is closed and I understand their are laws against reverse engineering the format and the encryption. This is analogically (real word?) the same as saying that you are not even permitted to try and get an aerial built to receive the signal.
Re: 92% do not use Windows *XP* (but 8% do?)
"(Incidentally, for anyone under the suspicion that there is someone with a split personality disorder posting, here there are actually two seperate "Matt"s.)" - No there isn't - I'm in your head.
I agree that the BBC should not be in the business of forcing one choice over the other, but you must recognise that they are limited to their choice by legal obligations, and they have chosen the way they believe gets the service, in a legal manner, to the greatest number of people.
A number of people have said scrap DRM because it is easily possible to get the latest Dr Who HD episode DRM free, but just because it is possible (to do so illegally) doesn't mean you should also expect the BBC to behave in such a manner.
The whole argument appears to boil down to this:
BBC: We are trailing this way of letting approx. 80% of licence fee holders download some of our content.
Linux/Mac Users: But we want it too!
BBC: I know, and we will keep trying but can't atm because of DRM issues on your OSs.
L/M: We want it DRM free!
BBC: Err, thing is we have legal obligations so we need DRM
L/M: WANT WANT WANT!
BBC: Sorry kids, what can I say? Its got to have DRM
L/M: Well I can d/l a better quality verson DRM free anyway, so I wouldn't use your iPlayer anyway. neyah!
BBC: Well that is illegal, and while people may look the other way when a few home users do that if we, a large corporation closely allied to the UK Govt who we rely on for funding, were to do the same, it may have more serious repercussions, so you see its not really quite as simple as just giving all of this content away!
L/M: Its the principle at stake, we want it now, and for free!
BBC: As we said before, we are restricted by our legal obligations but will try…
L/M: U R the EViL, BBC Suxors, U R in bed with micro$oft!!!1
Bill Gates (Possibly in some kind of darkened room, with his fingers pressed together Mr Burns stylee): Excellent!
(this is how it happened in my head)
Auntie Beeb is now quite an old lady - and like many old ladies, she's gone quite dotty in her dotage.
Utterly out of touch with reality.
I blame that John Birt (yes, I know he wasn't involved in this, but he is the sort who gives smug morons a bad name).