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BBC Trust won't probe iPlayer open source gripes

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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.

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