back to article BBC Trust backs calls for Linux iPlayer

The BBC Trust met with the Open Source Consortium (OSC) yesterday to discuss the controversy raised by the BBC's iPlayer, which will only work on Windows XP. The Trust expressed surprise at the strength of feeling raised by the issue and promised to take it up with senior BBC management. The BBC Trust oversees the BBC and: " …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Kevin Johnston

    Working in the Open

    Top marks to all concerned, maybe this is only 'talks about talks', but at least they are talking in what seems to be a reasonable manner rather than shouting at each other. Will be interesting to see if this moves things forward faster than the ranting technique.

  2. andy gibson

    Only XP?

    What about Vista?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    So the Beeb (who were going to support OS-X all along, just not at the launch) are giong to go to the owners of the content - who they have already had a year of negotiations with - and say "we'd like to do linux too."

    The the content owners are going to say "you'd like to make our content available on an OS where there isn't any DRM [which they insist is used] and even if there were, it'd be pretty easily subvertable"

    Then the Beeb: "Err, yes."

    I'll leave you to work out what the content providers are going to tell the Beeb to do. There will be two short words containing three Fs.

  4. Nano nano

    Open standards

    And yet it's not too long ago that the BBC website was serving Ogg audio files ...

  5. Outcast


    Nice one... Way to go !!

    I have noticed that since all this about the player blew up that BBC Vid feeds now work in Debian 64, using VLC

    Power to the People !!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Why bother? Isn't this just a waste of the licence fee for the 3 people that will use it?

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Jeez - some people are never satisfied !

    Of course those whining about the lack of cross platform support will be the first in the queue to complain about the cost to the BBC licence payer of developing a cross platform solution.

    It's a wonder that the BBC is able to produce anything when the new trust is willing to listen to every gripe from tin pot organisations.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I have a speccy 48 and I demand it works on there. i don't care if it delays everyone else, I wan't it now!

    Problem was that many of the Linux prats (sorry supoprters) can't ready more than a few words without flying into a "Dear BBC" rage.

    The Beeb said from the start it was Beta testing on XP and then add others later.

    Linux dicks read this as; it wil only ever work on XP.

  9. Mark Randall

    Content Providers

    "I'll leave you to work out what the content providers are going to tell the Beeb to do. There will be two short words containing three Fs."

    The BBC is their own content provider, and so are likely to be slightly more polite to themselves.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Will iPlayer Infecting Linux with DRM?

    Bearing in mind the BBC's statement that not allowing downloads to play after 2 week from broadcast, due to 'contractual restrictions' Will porting iPlayer to Linux necessitate implementing a DRM architecture?


  11. Andy

    More open source religious rubbish

    Open source is not a religion. Everyone and everything does not have to respect its rights .

    The iPlayer should be available to all UK citizens. It is (or will be) - just grab yourself a widely available (to all UK citizens) copy of Windows from your nearest retailer.

    Just because the BBC doesn't support your (personal) choice of OS then tough. The BBC needs to hit maximum market share, it does this by developing a platform for Windows first because like it or not the religion of Linux is in the minority.

  12. Daniel Snowden

    Who's money?

    "Why bother? Isn't this just a waste of the licence fee for the 3 people that will use it?"

    If that's the case, then as as Linux user, shouldn't I get some kind of rebate on the license fee? Given that I pay for my TV License and find that I'm paying for a service I can't use. (And no doubt the license fee will skyrocket along with the BBC bandwidth costs)

    Every day, the BBC starts to look like a bigger and bigger waste of money.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Release the anger!

    Hilarious, regarding the backlash against Linux users here. I thought Apple and Sony were badly bashed here. I was wrong. Linux users are copping the heaviest abused of the lot! I guess The Register serves as some peoples free replacement for those therapists they should be seeing.

    Anyone who thinks DRM is platform specific is a moron, and the algorithms are not licensed on a platform specific basis. To the content providers I doubt it was licensed based on anything more than a technical requirements specification, which is something which can be done on a platform agnostic level. To make a product so heavily reliant on a single version of a single companies product is an anti-competitive move, and only further supports a company a monopoly.

    PS. No, i'm not a Linux user, not even a fan.

  14. Richard

    Content providers

    Fraser, the "content owners" are us. We paid for it first time around.

    To the Windows trolls: Plenty of people use Linux. Apple is again a major seller of personal computers. Plenty of people want to see the content on other devices. Own a mobile phone? It certainly isn't running XP.


  15. Les Matthew

    Re: Content Providers

    I think you'll find that changed during the reign of Blue Sky Birt.

  16. The Mighty Spang

    why i no longer own a telly

    its full of crap and you have to pay over £100 a year for it... then they waste loads of money doing crap like this so people with unpopular systems get a chance to download the same crap they broadcast on tv.

    the beeb has long since stopped being a public service broadcaster and the space between shows is full of adverts. for itself. scrap license fee, make it go commerical.

    perhaps have a small license fee (like £20 a year) and start a TV channel that *is* actually public service broadcasting?

  17. A J Stiles

    @Stu Reeves

    Fret not. When the Source Code for the Linux version of the player is released, you will be able and free to modify this to run on your Speccy 48K.

    That is the beauty of Source Code: you only need to release one version, and it works on everything.

  18. Chris

    Absolutely no change

    It's still going to be other platforms asap (well, as asarp, and only as asarp as the BBC can be) with reviews every six months and no set timetable, no absolute limit of two years as was taken out of the original proposal, no change in the notion of using DRM in any way. But apparently this is now being presented as a triumph for the Movement. Huh?

    By the way, much of the BBC's content is produced by independent companies. Especially the popular stuff. But that does leave the question of why the BBC isn't letting more of its own work be more free, even if they have to listen to their friends' concerns on other stuff.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Wow, everyone is shouting about how all the Linux users are whinging and costing the BBC money and time...

    Haven't you got any vitriol left for the Mac OS X users?

  20. Chris Miller

    Content providers

    A lot of BBC TV output is provided by third parties (e,g, RDF who provided the now notorious footage of Her Maj). I'm sure they now have agreements in place allowing them to deliver this content over the Internet, but I wouldn't be surprised to learn that such agreements require 'watertight' content management.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Content Providers

    "The BBC is their own content provider, and so are likely to be slightly more polite to themselves."

    This isn't the case at all - BBC are rarely the rights holder. Other than publically establishing that those attending the meeting from both the Trust and OSC have no understanding of the issues, this has accomplished little.

  22. David


    How about the bbc keep their player and their content, and I will keep the licence fee. Everyones a winner.

  23. Ian

    Nice, But.

    Open Source DRM == Chocolate Teapot

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: More open source religious rubbish

    Andy - you're quite right, if you want to use this you should buy Windows.

    In other news, whilst reinforcing that the TV license will still be a legal requirement, the BBC today announced that it's shows will from now on only work on Samsung televisions. Asked whether the BBC thought this was a problem to people who choose not to use Samsung televisions, they said: "Of course not, Samsung televisions are widely available in all shops so if people want to use our services they can go out and buy one."

  25. Dave Stark


    The Beeb should just make sure it works with WINE, and all will be well.

  26. Les Matthew

    To all the Linux nay sayers

    What if the BBC suddenly said that you could only watch terrestrial TV on Sony television sets. Would you be happy with that?

    And no, I'm not a Linux zealot or user. Yet.

  27. Chad H.

    @andy Gibson

    Vista compatibility is delayed... Just like Mac Compatibility. Its an XP only shop on launch.

  28. Frank Bough

    Linux Not the Point

    The point here is that iPlayer should not be tied to a proprietary, closed technology such as Windows Media. The BBC should be using relevant MPEG standards, as they do with their other broadcasting channels. Support in Linux, MacOS, Windows OR ANYTHING ELSE would then flow naturally.

  29. This post has been deleted by its author

  30. kevin king


    "I'll leave you to work out what the content providers are going to tell the Beeb to do. There will be two short words containing three Fs."

    "The BBC is their own content provider, and so are likely to be slightly more polite to themselves."

    I'm afraid that the BBC do not own the content, they only have the right to broadcast it in a short window. The independent production companies that make the programs now own the rights.


    the background:

    The BBC has agreed new Terms of Trade for commissioning programmes from independent producers, it was confirmed on Monday.

    The agreement was reached with Pact, the trade association representing the commercial interests of the producers. It will apply retroactively from January 6, 2004.

    Under the new terms, the BBC has agreed that independent producers will own the copyright, and all other rights, to the programmes they produce. The corporation will then licence the programming for use across its TV channels for five years. Repeat usage fees will be paid by the BBC to the producers when the programme is used in a way not covered by the initial licence fee. This licence will also cover "public service" new media rights. The licence can be extended on a rolling two-year basis whilst the programming is recommissioned.

    Independent producers will also retain control of all distribution rights to their programme, "subject to certain protections required to protect the BBC's licence," although the BBC will still "be entitled to a share in net profit from the exploitation of all rights in the programming."

  31. Angus Prune

    Content Providers

    Acctually Mar, BBC are not their own content providers. Most of their material (a certain proportion by law) is produced by external production companies who generally keep all rights to the work.

    It is the production companies who are the biggest obstacle to the BBC releasing a truly open iPlayer (sans DRM). It would challenge their revenue from DVD sales and transmission in other territories.

  32. Law


    Shouldn't the Beeb have thought about open systems BEFORE paying someone to write a Windows only platform? It's released in a few days, so now we have managed to pay for a Windows version, next will be Mac... then eventually (in the distant distant future) a Linux system.

    It would be nice if they just built one system from the start that worked on all of them....

    And to the anon person who said:

    "Why bother? Isn't this just a waste of the licence fee for the 3 people that will use it?"

    .... well basically because I and the two other guys pay a license fee too you short sighted t*sser....

  33. Jonathan Powell

    BBC should try harder

    I'd like to see the BBC get their content rights in order so they can supply as much as possible (of their in-house productions) to a DRM-free implementation, and let the 3rd party content owners haggle about what they provide on the nobody-wants-to-use-this DRM closed source Microsofty product.

    I'm pretty confident that an open source implementation would see way more use than most people assume. I don't know many people who would willingly sit at their desktop PC and watch TV, but I believe there's quite a growing market for media centre systems (apple TV and linux-based systems) as well as the portable market (I'd love iPlayer on my Nokia N800 :)

    BBC should be leading the way with all this, not playing catch-up. I'd hope they aren't totally at the mercy of other production companies and Microsoft in this respect.

  34. Robbin Nichol

    BBC OS

    Maybe they should have their own distro! BeebOS,

  35. Duncan Hothersall

    @ Fraser

    Why do you think implementing DRM on Linux would be "pretty easily subvertible"?

    Lazy DRM would be more easily broken on Linux, certainly, but there's no reason why the sorts of security systems that are already available on Linux couldn't be used to provide DRM.

    The problem isn't implementation. The problem is that the content owners usually have no push to use something that would be robust in an open source environment. Well now the BBC, as a content owner, might just have that push.

  36. Natalie Gritpants

    Doesn't have to be open source.

    The BBC can make an iPlayer available for Linux without making it open source. That could include whatever DRM they like. Cracking it won't be any easier than cracking the Windows version either. Why do people assume that a Linux iPlayer would not have effective DRM?

  37. Stu Reeves


    All this shilling for Microsoft can be a bit wearing, in particular when I get "squirted" by my Lord and master, Steve Balmer. Can anyone recommend a soothing cream which will ease my bottom pains in this regard?

  38. Steve Anderson


    For Anonymous Coward and Stu Reeves...

    Imagine for a moment you're on your swish XP or Vista box and you hear about this great new free thing the BBC are going to do, but you can only access it if you have a Mac, and have no intention of supporting Windows. Wouldn't you feel aggrieved? Welcome to the point that's being made. If they were charging for it, so be it - I wouldn't be paying for it, so not using it would be fine. But for me to be paying my license fee just for some Windows dicks... sorry, prats... sorry, supporters to get a free lunch while I'm being told to sling my hook, my money's fine but my operating system is all wrong, that's where the problem is.

    Drawing a comparison to a Spectrum is fine. Get your Spectrum on the Internet before you use that line though. Seriously, build an ethernet adaptor for a 48k Spectrum and a TCP/IP stack, and I'll support your case to use it. There's my challenge. Of course, if there's an open standard followed instead of Windows Media Player, anyone with a bit of know-how could write a translator to show the BBC programming - in fact I can think of how to do it already. (FWIW, a 48k version would suffer from lack of dedicated sound chips, a 128k version would be better - and could use the two hardware screens for double-buffering for flicker-free viewing - but a "speccy 48" is what you have.)

    Honestly, you Linux-bashing Windows apologists don't know how fab things can be when things are opened up and set loose.

  39. Mo

    O rly?

    "So the Beeb (who were going to support OS-X all along, just not at the launch)"

    Really? I think you'll find that they use Microsoft's proprietary DRM (which isn't tied into the OS, incidentally, it's just not licensed to anybody for porting to other platforms). If they persuaded Microsoft to port it to any platform besides Windows, it'd be a bit of a coup.

    The alternative is to not use Microsoft's DRM, or only use it for Windows users. There's nothing about DRM that means it has to be integrated with the OS, although for Mac users the BBC could just take a look at the iTunes Store, which has been providing downloadable episodes of various TV series in the US for quite some time now. For Linux users, they'd have to do something else.

    “The Beeb should just make sure it works with WINE, and all will be well.”

    That's not going to help the people who don't use x86. And WINE isn't exactly a production solution at the best of times.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The real problem here is the DRM and that's why a Windows-only "solution" was chosen in the first place. The reality is that if a BBC programme is DRMed I can get it online any time I want. So the DRM achieves precisely nothing. The fact that the player requires me to run a buggy ,overpriced, ugly operating system in order to be inconvenienced just underlines what a waste of licence-payers' money it was for the BBC to buy Microsoft's DRM scheme just for the priviledge of maintaining a market for bit-torrents of its own programming.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To ensure maximum Reg reader outrage

    Can I insist that the iPlayer runs on my iPhone?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    which iPlayer?

    ...but surely the iPlayer already runs Linux? At least my iPlayer does. Ooops my mistake, mine is the original iPlayer, the Netgem iPlayer, the one that the BBC appears to have stolen the name from.

  43. Chris Cartledge


    Most the comments here miss the point. The issue is not about Linux or Mac OS, but about net neutrality. In future people are going to be listening from mobile devices as well as PCs so I trust there will be Symbian and iPhone support...

  44. Andy


    1) Buy a freeview box with a USB output port.

    2) Roll your own mp4 file (or, whatever).

    Would certainly be quicker than waiting for the Beeb to produce a DRM-friendly client for Linux...

  45. AndyB

    RE:Doesn't have to be open source.

    No, it doesn't have to be open source and there is no reason why OS DRM cannot be as effective as closed source DRM.

    The problem is that they are using Microsoft's proprietary DRM and, unless MS release / compile / allow its use on Linux, etc any non-Windows iPlayer would have to use incompatible DRM to the Windows version.

    Now, the iPlayer based on a Peer to Peer network. If different DRM solutions were used for Windows and other platforms then you will, in effect, have two different systems and Linux, Mac, etc users will be isolated from the content shared by Windows users.

    And before some twonk comes back and says (like they did when I made a similar comment on a previous article) that the DRM is supposed to stop sharing, I'd just like to reiterate that the iPlayer uses P2P. Sharing is HOW IT WORKS!

    The DRM is pointless anyway. Most of the content on the iPlayer network will be available on other, less restricted, P2P networks without the DRM, anyway (and is already available to Linux users).

    Incidentally. I found myself permanently BANNED from the BBC messageboards for making an identical observation to that above. Not like the BBC are control freaks, or anything.

    Here's to hoping that The Register are more enlightened ;-)

  46. Nev

    What About Solaris!!!!

    Well if a handful of people bitching and whining can get support for any old platform, I want a Solaris (On Sparc) player! [Stamps foot]

  47. Dave Murray

    Re: More open source religious rubbish

    "Open source is not a religion. Everyone and everything does not have to respect its rights .

    The iPlayer should be available to all UK citizens. It is (or will be) - just grab yourself a widely available (to all UK citizens) copy of Windows from your nearest retailer.

    Just because the BBC doesn't support your (personal) choice of OS then tough. The BBC needs to hit maximum market share, it does this by developing a platform for Windows first because like it or not the religion of Linux is in the minority."

    Open source does not equal Linux. There's plenty of open source apps that run on OSX, Solaris, AIX and yes even Windows. Many of these open source apps are better than their closed, paid-for equivalents.

    This player only works with WinXP 32 bit. That's like saying in future BBC programmes will only be watchable on a single model of TV made by a single manufacturer AND no longer available in the shops because it's an out of date model. Would you be happy with that? Would be a shame if they didn't support your choice of 42" plasma screen wouldn't it.

  48. Lee Turner

    Open standards

    Surely the argument should be more about open standards, than an iPlayer for Linux? I feel sticking Linux in the title is rather missleading.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Linux and open source


    The problem is that people think Linux=open source Therefore anything that runs on Linux has to be open source.

    Its perfectly possible to have proprietary software running on Linux. Oracle do it quite easily.

    The BBC of course got into bed with Microsoft and so we ended up with a windows only, MS DRM infested pile of poop for a player rather than a proprietary cross platform application

  50. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If brains...

    God some people are sooo dumb

    "Just because the BBC doesn't support your (personal) choice of OS then tough. "

    Would be a bit tough if they stopped supporting your TV, or your radio, or perhaps your browser. Get a life, this is not about a minority OS, or even two of them, its about the BBC and thier obligation to the fee payer's, its about the BBC using standards, which will benifit all.

    BeebOS sounds good, although only 3 people would use it what a shame ;)

    I am a windows user, and due to their utter crapness I rarely use IE, and I never use Media Player.

  51. Paul

    Re: Who's money?

    "If that's the case, then as as Linux user, shouldn't I get some kind of rebate on the license fee? Given that I pay for my TV License and find that I'm paying for a service I can't use. (And no doubt the license fee will skyrocket along with the BBC bandwidth costs)"

    My Nan doesn't even have a PC, should she get a rebate as she can't even use the BBC website yet alone any version of the iPlayer?

    I don't listen to the radio, can I get a rebate for that?

    I've never watched any of the BBC digital channels, when should I be expecting my rebate for them?

    Just because you pay the license fee doesn't mean that they have to automatically provide you with every single service that it pays for, it's your responsibility to make sure you have the equipment to take advantage of it, whether that is buying a digital box, a radio, a pc, or even a copy of windows. They make it avaliable, but at every stage you have to get the right equipment to use it, and if you can't, then tough luck.

  52. Martin Saunders

    What's wrong with Real Player DRM?

    OK OK, let me rephrase that, what's right with Real Player (in general), but doesn't it do DRM protected content and there is a Windows, OS/X and Linux port?

  53. Keiran

    Mac vs. Linux

    Just a minor point, they should create a linux version before a Mac version. Although I'm about to hugley simplify this the guts should still hold.

    If you have a working linux implementation of a product as modern Max OSX is based around BSD so the main issues would only then be cleaning up the interface and changing the installer for those who like to point and click.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Okay, I know I said Java, but think of it this way.. you write it once on a Java platform, it works on pretty much any OS that supports JVM, that includes Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, not forgetting Solaris, *BSD, etc.

  55. Jon

    How many O/s do you support

    I've already seen comments from people saying that their Spectrum/Amiga or otherwise should be supported. Can I also throw in my washing machine as I've not seen that o/s listed.

    More seriously, while I don't know the ins and outs of how well Linux distros support DRM, perhaps the statement that the beeb should be making is that they aim to support all modern o/s with a regular user base on their web site of over x amount will be supported, where the DRM capabilities of that o/s allow.

    I cannot see why anyone would be able to argue against this definition. Then it's just down to seeing if the beeb can AFFORD to support that many distros. If they can't then really, they shouldn't have bothered in the first place.

  56. calagan

    The smart way to design software

    Even though the share of Linux desktop users is still rather small, I think the smartest way to go about designing software is to start developing Open Source and then port to Windows and Mac, like VLC for example. That way, you'll surely save a lot of money, because, right now, the poor dev have to basically start from scratch, that Windows code being unusable.

    Forget about the speccy, let's get it to work on the ZX81!! Who needs colour anyway?

  57. Edward Rose

    Just a little bemused

    Firstly, Speccies won't have the capability to decode full frame rate DRM'd video. Video out isn't the best, but should be good if it could happen.

    OSC aren't saying make it available for Linux. Or GNU for that matter.

    They want it available for Win98, WinVista, Mac, GNU/Linux, FreeBSD, BSD, oh the list could go on.

    The complaint is that the BBC are using a DRM that will be ported to a non-MS system the day hell freezes over (although I believe this did happen when Sun started selling AIX, or was it IBM and Solaris?).

    BBC should use a DRM that is proven to be tough (nothing against DRM in this case) and have a binary that is widely available. Most of us couldn't give a t'penny piece for the software, we can write that.

    Also, the complaint comes in because I reckon in a couple of months time I'll be an illegal user of the service because this wonderful MS DRM will be cracked so everyone can enjoy the media. Why can't I use it legally.

    And the final point....

    3 users? 11500+ more like. And, thats just the complaints in the UK not the world remember.

  58. Dennis

    Open source is not a religion. Everyone and everything does not have to respect its rights .

    And can someone explain why we should have to be so respectful of people's religous rights. We should no more repsect them then people's desire to have iPlayer ported to their old A3000 Acorn...

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Easy Answer

    Well I'm just going to replace my TV with a monitor, and use iPlayer and the SKY TV Internet player, and cancel my TV license hence no TV tuners in use :)

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: The smart way to design software

    They can't make it Open Source, if it's Open Source then they have to provide the source, which means people can disable the DRM, meaning there will be no content as the content providers won't license it (We're not just talking the people who make the programs here, but the people with other interests in it, i.e. for any music used - That's why lots of DVDs of old TV series have been delayed).

    They can make it closed source on Linux, but they won't be able to use any existing OSS code to speed the development, because that would make it a requirement for the rest of it to be OSS then. So wherever they start the development from, they are starting from scratch (well, the same point, develop inhouse or license other parts).

  61. AndyB

    @Paul RE:RE Whose Money

    Oh, FFS!

    You are completely missing the point, aren't you?

    Your 'nan' doesn't have a computer, so she cannot use the BBC web site? If she DID buy a computer she would be able to buy ANY computer (Windows, Linux, Mac, etc, etc) and use the BBC web site.

    You don't listen to radio, but, if you WANT to listen to the radio you can go out and buy any FM or DAB radio from ANY manufacturer and listen.

    You have never watched any BBC Digital channels, but you can go out and buy any DVB-T STB and watch them if you want. (incidentally, if you cannot, currently receive Freeview in you area I think you SHOULD be entitled to a rebate).

    Can you spot what web pages, FM radio, DAB and DVB have in common? Yes, that's right, STANDARDS. They all work to common, published and recognised STANDARDS. I can buy a Freeview STB from any manufacturer and it works. I can buy a DVB-T card for my computer and view Freeview programmes under Window OR Linux.

    Standards. Get it? Standards!

    If iPlayer worked to PUBLISHED standards then clients can be written by anyone with access to those standards. Windows, Linux, Mac, PS3 Wii, XBox, etc, etc,etc.

    As it is we have total lock-in to ONE platform (PC) ONE operating system (Windows XP) and ONE application (WMP). That, IMHO, is totally unacceptable.

  62. dek

    Would you listen to yourselfs!

    All this debate when in reality there is very little if anything worth watching *once* on the BBC let alone twice. Who exactly is going to be bothered downloading anything to watch again... but only within the time dictated by an outdated, outmoded service run by the biggest bunch of wishy-washy, money wasting drama queens ever created in Bullshit Britain. PULLLLEASSSE... tell me which brain matter challenged individuals (other than employees of aforementioned crap organisation) will choose this method over the "record" button on their video recorder/ pvr.

    Really, it is yet another money wasting exercise from start to finish in the fantasy world known as the "BBC".

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Consider the consequences

    I'm pretty annoyed that every time I see an article regarding the BBC there is inevitable BBC bashing and cries to scrap the license fee and make the BBC go commercial.

    Do people not consider the consequences? Do they not realise that the BBC is one of the last bastions of the semi-free* press? Do people want another Fox news?

    The reason any channel is the way it is is because people watch the tripe they put on. Just because the BBC also broadcasts similar rubbish does not mean that the license fee should be scrapped, I am much happier paying £100 for the BBC to be "independent"* and produce probably the best news feeds* (via News 24, radio, and website, not just the TV that I wont be able to watch on my Linux desktop) in the world.

    The day we lose the BBC will be a very sad day, so please stop calling for it's premature death.

    (* I realise the BBC is not always perfect, but it has always seemed to be a lot more on the ball than a lot of the other "news" outlets and, having seen Fox news, I am glad it is not another of Rupert Murdoch's outlets).

  64. Allan

    What this is really about...

    There are a number of people who choose not to own a TV, and therefore don't pay the license fee, like me. If this goes through, the BBC is going to say..

    "You own a PC? Oh well in that case, PC's can now be used to access BBC content online. License please!"

  65. Morely Dotes

    This whole thing is actually funny

    In a black comedy sort of way.

    I use Windows XP, Windows Vista (because I am forced to do so at the day job), and several different distros of Linux.

    When I want to get some work accomplished, I use Linux. When I am playing games - or ripping "DRM"* encumbered content to unencrypted, unprotected content - I use Windows. Later on I may play that ripped content on one of my Linux systems.

    * - "Digital Rights Management" is a Marketing falsehood. It's actually "Technology User's Rights Denial System," also known as "TURDS."

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    License fee

    The BBC's web services, web site, streaming (audio) media etc. etc. are not covered by the license fee. The license fee covers broadcast television media. Not radio any more, this is cross funded by the license fee, but you don't have to have a license to use the services.

    Streaming television media is narrowcast, it is not covered by the license fee, the beeb don't have to guarantee you can use it (in fact they don't have to guarantee you can get broadcast, there are still places that you can't get it in the UK.) Now, it appears that they are going to make streaming video available to Windows and Mac PCs. Great. This is a bonus. They may or may not be able to get it to work on Linux. This would be more of a bonus.

    A few other points:

    Yes, the BBC were always going to support Mac OSX, just not at launch.

    The DRM is a major issue, it's the only reason that the content owners will allow them to re-transmit their content. It has taken a year for the Beeb to negotiate this with the content providers.

    DRM doesn't (as yet) work on FOSS OSes, because the driver of the output device is also Open Source, therefore anyone with a fair amount of programming experience can write a piece of software to grab the output of the DRM stage before it is output to the output device. This sort of thing is vastly more difficult on a closed source system.

  67. Alex


    We all have the luxury of access to a computer. Not every person does and some of those people will nevertheless be license payers.

    They can't access the BBC website that they help to pay for, they deserve a rebate, right?

    They might not have a freeview box, so they miss out on BBC3 etc. They deserve another rebate, right?

    They might not own a radio, or may ONLY own a radio, they deserve yet another rebate, right?

    Not all BBC services are available for all license payers who can't/won't pay for the necessary kit and never have been. Obviously, that’s not entirely fair but it's the only pragmatic way to roll-out the services that the majority of us can enjoy.

  68. Steven Hewittt

    Analogy for Penguin lovers

    As mentioned above, the whole debate that the BBC could only transmit to Samsung TV's is comparable to me not being able to get Freeview. I've paid for the ariel, and a set-top-box - but the signal is just too crap. Thus no BBC Three for me.

    Just suppose we tweaked the above, so everyone COULD get Freeview, but only if the ariel was manufacturered by "company A". 90% or so the UK already has a compatible company A arial, even though it's a bit more expensive it's just the standard that's occured (through whatever means! ;-)

    Now whilst these additional services (channels such as BBC Three and Four) are out for the vast majority of people in the UK, non-compatible company A arial households can still get the two standard BBC channels - but just not the Freeview ones, without getting a company A arial.

    Would there be an outcry? Probably not.

    Additionally, as mentioned above, the license fee pays for the BBC to provision BBC One and BBC Two on analogue TV. That's directly what you get back for your £12 a month. However the BBC also have other services, mainly funded by the licence fee, that includes Freeview/Digital only channels, FM Radio stations, DAB radio stations and various other media for us to watch/listen to.

    Open sauce does have it's limitations; unless something like HDMI over HDCP was implemented for Linux (I hear cries of 'over my dead body'!) then whilst it maybe possible to implement some type of DRM on Linux, there will be a greater chance of it being cracked as at some point the output will need to go through some code which is open source.

    And lets face it, Windows or Mac - there's no DRM yet anyway that can't be cracked; so imagine what the content owners are thinking about running DRM on a OPEN SOURCE system!

    Finally, has anyone listened to the Jimmy Carr joke: "WANTED: Small minority to ruin it for the rest of us"

    That's the 5% of home users that have Linux by the way.

  69. OffBeatMammal

    just coz it runs of Linux it might not be Open Source

    what's to stop the BBC simply producing a monolithic commercial closed source app that runs on Linux. Maybe one flavour (say Ubuntu or perhaps Linspire). Maybe with a minimum system spec of a dual core pentium, 4GB RAM and a high end GPU... they'll have done what they promised and the Open Sauce movement will have gained.... nothing apart from wasting some money.

    I look at stats for web traffic on a couple of fairly busy sites I'm involved in and Linux users are about on a par with OS/2... but we still test in a couple of flavours because if something doesn't work right in some bleeding edge version of Firefox in an unstable branch of the OS we get more complaints (fired off by the same 12 people out of user base of over 1/2 a million) that our service is crap (interestingly if you look at a subset of users paying for premium content we have more on Win95 than all Linux flavours combined so IMO they're just a bunch of freeloaders anyway. Let 'em use BitTorrent)

  70. Carlton Lee

    Lets all bow down and thank the %5 Linux users.

    Lets all bow down and thank the %5 Linux users.

    Posted Thursday 26th July 2007 02:37 GMT

    1. Linux is a moderating influence. Keeping prices down at Microsoft. Think about it, Microsoft is now only charging you $100 for a $10 piece of software, without Linux they probably would be charging you $400 for that same $10 software.

    2. Linux is a positive influence. If you only had Microsoft. Then you would be had by Microsoft. Microsoft has never innovated, realistically only coming up with new products in response to outside pressure and influence. Remember the crap that was Windows ME! The other day they announced a new world changing product, a touch screen display in a coffee table. It is to laugh...

    3. Linux people are only asking for what is reasonable. Standardization. It is reasonable to be able to open files on any computer and be able to read them, display them, play them. Microsoft gets no benefit from reasonableness, hence new Word program that creates files that older Word programs cannot view. (Word a $10 program can be easily be replaced by programs that costs pennies.)

    Explaining standardization is tough. How to explain. TV's in a various countries running on 110 or 220 volts or the local standard equivalent. Standard sized auto/truck tires that can go on either a Ford or a Toyota or a ????. Petrol that doesn't mess up your engine. Does anybody complain about the costs of these standardizations. No! because standardizations lower costs......

    BBC need to require standardizations to lower it costs and to provide all it valuable users better service.

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not commercial, subscription

    The opponents of the license fee are not advocating that the BBC goes commercial, funds itself via advertising or whatever. Most of them probably want the BBC to be subscription funded and without advertising. Most of them are probably perfectly willing to subscribe. They just want subscription to be voluntary.

    What they object to is that anyone in the UK who wants to watch TV is at the moment obliged by law to subscribe to the BBC. Even if you enjoy the BBC and would subscribe to it if to do so were voluntary, this is deeply troubling to anyone with a conscience. Why should millions of people who do not want to subscribe to it and are not interested in watching it, be forced to do so, just so I can enjoy what I like?

    I do not, after all, demand that every time someone buys the Guardian or the Mirror they pay a fee to the News of the World or the Independent, just because I enjoy reading them. I do not demand that every rock concert shall pay a subsidy to my favourite chamber ensemble or jazz trio. I don't expect every tourist to Malaga to pay a subsidy to my favourite bed and breakfast in West Wales. Tesco does not pay a subsidy to Morrisons, because I prefer Morrisons.

    The question about the license fee is, what is so different to justify making people buy stuff they do not want, as a condition of buying what they do want?

  72. Andrew Smith

    platform independant

    Instead of making it work on each operating system why not just make it platform independent. ATM this can be easily achieved using Java.

  73. John

    DRM will not work on Linux

    There is no way that DRM will work on Linux. The two are fundamentally incompatible.

    It's very nice that the BBC is going make the iPlayer eventually work on Linux, however when this happens only a subset of programmes will be available as the programme makers will not trust the Linux community. (Linux not being part of the "Trusted Computing" framework).

    Simple facts. Release programmes in XP/Vista/Mac format and the copyright will be safe. Release to the Linux community and the programmes will be on BitTorrent within minutes.

    Personally, I still have a VHS recorder and am happy to set the timer.

  74. Vulpes Vulpes

    Jeeze, what a lot of fuss. Here are some FACTS:

    Hot air and misinformed opinion.There's so much of it in this discussion it could power a small city.

    Why whine about OS choice?

    The BBC chose a solution with the available DRM facilities to keep the content owners happy on day 1, and the biggest catchment of licence payers - over 80% of UK PC users currently have XP 32bit.

    Why whine about not being able to use it 'cos you're a Linux user/Mac fanboy AND a licence payer?

    Do you suppose the BBC should only ever do something new if they can guarantee that every last licence payer will benefit from the off? Get real. Think about the digital switchover for a start. They should be obliged to keep the analogue signal on-air because some poor sods in the middle of nowhere can't get a digital signal? I think not. Smell the coffee folks.

    Why whine about the application?

    The BBC didn't WRITE the iPlayer, they are using an EXISTING application (the same one as Sky, Channel 4 and others). Writing one from scratch would have seen the BBC crucified for spending licence money on systems development when a working alternative was readily available.

    Why whine about the use of Microsoft components?

    Along the way, the iPlayer solution uses Sun Solaris, Linux and Windows server components, to deliver content to an end user client application which runs under XP 32bit. Anybody got any complaints about using Solaris or Linux servers?

    Why whine about the use of DRM?

    Download some content. Remove the DRM. Transcode to another format if you have processor cycles to waste. Watch using DivX Player, VLC or whatever you like, whenever you like, for as long as you like.

    Now stop trying to make yourself feel more pleased with yourself by writing cobblers on here and GET A LIFE.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No technical reason for this not to happen.

    I can tell you that the video format plays in VLC and mplayer.

    Also the DRM has been cracked already.

    Trust me when I say I know this because I have legally tested it.

    You know what I mean. ;-)

This topic is closed for new posts.