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Microsoft contract limbo

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Xbox 360 owners in the UK must wait "indefinitely" for the BBC iPlayer on their game consoles because Microsoft insists that only paying subscribers can have access to online extras.

According to the Telegraph, citing sources "close to the BBC's Future Media and Technology" unit, negotiations to adapt the iPlayer for the Xbox 360 are caught in contract limbo between Microsoft's velvet rope around Xbox Live Gold accounts and the BBC's public service remit.

Microsoft wants to keep its subscription Xbox Live Gold service distinct from the gratis portions of Xbox Live by offering extra services such as Netflix and the Sky Player only to those willing to foot the monthly charge.

Accesses Netflix on Xbox Live, for example, requires both a subscription Gold account and a Netflix account.

The BBC, meanwhile, cannot charge the British public for access to the iPlayer because it's already paid for by the UK television license fee.

"This does not fit with the BBC's model and Microsoft will not budge at the moment. It is really frustrating for those involved on the BBC side who want to make sure iPlayer is rolled out on as many popular entertainment platforms as possible," one source told the paper.

Microsoft's policy of demanding gamegeld stands in stark contrast to the Xbox 360's rival consoles: Nintendo's Wii and Sony's Playstation 3. Both already offer free access to the iPlayer.

While Redmond schemes of making the Xbox 360 a complete media hub for households by adding more and more popular third-party services, it insists on retaining complete control over the environment (in a very Apple-like fashion, really). Last month, Microsoft even went so far as to ban what's been estimated to be several thousands of users from Xbox Live network for modifying their Xbox 360 consoles, claiming the alleged acts were violations of the terms of service. ®

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