BBC Trust won't probe iPlayer open source gripes
Tells users to 'Have Your Say' via online survey instead
Exclusive The governing body of the BBC has no plans to investigate the Corporation's decision to block open source implementations of RTMP (real-time messaging protocol) streaming in the iPlayer, despite grumbles from many UK viewers and listeners of the service.
"The decision to block open source plugins is a matter for BBC Management. The Trust has not received any complaints on this issue and has no plans to look into it further at present," a BBC Trust spokeswoman told The Register.
As we revealed last week, the Beeb applied the update to its online video catch-up service on 18 February, and shortly after BBC forums were awash with complaints by Blighty-based iPlayer users who could no longer access the service.
The tweak meant that free RTMP plugins offered by the likes of the XBMC community - whose code is based on the GNU General Public Licence v2 - were prevented from streaming iPlayer content. The latest iteration of XBMC’s plugin was created in May last year and was being used by UK viewers to play TV and radio catch-up content from the BBC’s iPlayer service.
In effect, the Beeb shut the door on "unauthorised" video player applications by applying Adobe's SWF verification, which locks down the iPlayer in Flash, to its system.
"The Trust is currently consulting on the BBC's 'on demand' services which covers some iPlayer functions," said the spokeswoman.
That consultation is set to end on 12 March, at which point the trust will mull findings in the report before publishing it at the end of this year.
The BBC Trust spokeswoman also dismissed suggestions that the corporation had once again slammed the brakes on open source development within, or indeed, around the iPlayer.
She added users could access the service not just online but across a range of platforms including Virgin, Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3, which demonstrates well the Beeb's commitment to deliver the iPlayer to as large an audience as possible.
However, as we were first to report last week, the BBC Executive (which, to be fair, has rather a lot on its mind right now) told El Reg that "content protection" was a key technology built into its service.
"We periodically review the level of security to protect BBC programmes, brands and trademarks," it said.
Sadly, for openistas at least, that decision has left free RTMP plugins out in the cold, while iPlayer users are increasingly being forced down a Flash-only plug hole.
Meanwhile, anti-SWF verification feelings continue to run high.
When is a complaint not a complaint ? When you're not important...
"The Trust has not received any complaints on this issue and has no plans to look into it further at present"
I love the way organisations like the BBC Trust push back on complaints by claiming that there are no complaints. A bit like a supermarket trying to explain to irate customers why they now put organic dairy in one aisle and normal dairy in another by saying "customers have told us they prefer it this way" - "Oh Yeah? Who? Not us..."
If you know the "secret sauce" then you can make a complaint and one that is treated as such - but the secret sauce is just that, secret. Any other "complaints" to the BBC Trust are simply treated as "comments".
"which demonstrates well the Beeb's commitment to deliver the iPlayer to as large an audience as possible"
Yes, they've demonstrated the level of their commitment in that regard quite clearly.
No, I think it's safe to say that the constituency of Wii, PS3 etc owners is larger than that of the 'openistas'.
In the real world, the BBC has to keep its content providers happy in order that they agree for their stuff to be shown via these new channels. No matter how valid or invalid the reasons content providers have for doubting the security of a given system, if they have these doubts then the content will be pulled.
So, the choice comes down to a content rich service which keeps the corporates happy and is accessible in a way that is acceptible to 99.9% of potential users, or the openistas have their way and we get less stuff but keep 100% of people happy.
There's so much whinging that goes on on this topic - ten years ago we didn't have iPlayer on any platform, or PVRs - we'd only just got our mits on digiboxes for pete's sake. Now we can watch programmes on our TVs, through our games consoles, PCs, Macs, phones at pretty much whatever time we want. Yet we're still annoyed because it doesn't function on a tiny minority of people's setups? You lot want the moon on a stick you do!