back to article BBC defends iPlayer against Murdoch Jr's 'anti-competitive' claims

The BBC Trust, Auntie's independent oversight body, has today defended the iPlayer against claims by James Murdoch that it squashes competition and innovation in online TV. Murdoch, who's currently chief executive of News Corp in Europe and Asia, and is now reckoned as the Digger-sprog to most likely to inherit control of …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    James Murdoch in...

    ...throwing toys out of pram shocker.

    Want people to use your online service?

    A: make it work

    B: make sure decent programming is available on it that people want to watch.

    C: If it's chargable, charge it fairly [or link to your existing subscribers]

    It's that simple.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Pot Kettle Black....

    I always find Sky's whinging about the BBC being anti competitive amusing. That from a company with 100% of satellite pay TV market in the UK. Just try getting a satellite decoder cord for a PC for Sky - oh sorry you can't because they don't let out the spec. Try negotiating a condiational access agreement for a new channel with them and see how much they want to rake off your fees just to be on their platform. Try getting their channels on an alternative platform (e.g. cable) and see what they want to charge you for the priviledge of carrying them.

    Why Ofcom has not got stuck into them I don't know: if they are not a clear end to end monopoly I don't know what is!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't it time News Interational Media empire was split?

    He has all those newspapers, and all those TV stations and now he also has a lot of the online newspapers with the ownership of the WSJ & control of Dow Jones now.

    Now they're lobbying to attack the beeb, for daring to compete with his service.

    Really now is as good a time as ever to go break up News International, there shouldn't be cross media ownership of newspapers and tv and major online sites. It's too much of a danger to democracy if Murdoch's lot are trying to silence the competing Beeb.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Ah, but iPlayer *has* stifled innovation.

    You see, iPlayer does something obvious, and it does it quite well (albeit after a bumpy start). It is in no way "innovative". (Although the US patent office may disagree -- I mean, it did something obvious... on a computer!)

    This stops people "innovating" "out of the box", with "blue-sky synergies" and that sort of stuff; and inventing a very clever platform that doesn't really do what people want and doesn't even do what it does do really well.

    It's a bit like farms. They were obvious, we invented them, and they work quite well. This has stymied innovation of lab-grown foodstuffs.

    Ban iPlayer, and ban farming!

  5. Nigel Whitfield

    Funnily enough ...

    It's not that long ago that other people were saying the regulatory process required of the BBC was the reason why they took so long to get the iPlayer up and running, having to jump through the hoops of the Public Value Test, while other broadcasters were able to launch their services much more quickly.

    Surely, if everyone else had their services - including offerings like 4OD and five's download option - running before the iPlayer took offer, it could hardly have been a pre-emptive launch, could it?

    Just the usual sour grapes BBC bashing; the same sort of whining that saw BBC Jam canned, because people didn't like something better than their offerings being done by the beeb.

  6. Paul

    Can someone explain

    How the iplayer making just BBC programs available to view online is crowding out competition???

  7. Kevin Dwyer


    You owe me one lovely, newly coffee stained aluminium wireless keyboard for

    " Kitchenware blackness symposium "

  8. Lloyd


    Pot, Kettle, black indeed, anyone fancy watching something in HD from another source other than Sky? Well tough shit, they own the market, and there's nothing you can do.... bwaaahhhaaahhahhhaa.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    How dare they!

    Just who do the BBC think they are? I mean, come on... if they're just going to cave in and provide their customers with a product & services that are simple to use, cross platform and just work... well, we might *all* have to do so!

    Now, if you don't mind, I'm going to back to try installing the Sky Anytime software on my Macs... I'm sure it's something I'm doing wrong... let me see the checklist ...

    pay £160 quid for my highly unreliable and functionally crippled DVR - *actually, not checked, gawd bless my Tivo*

    pay £60 for some useless third-party contractor in a sky van who'll fail to turn up at my house when they said he would... several times... - *see above*

    choose a wide selection of channels I don't want but must take because of the stupid bundling - check

    pay £45 per month subscription via direct debit - check

    watch while the murdoch's laugh all the way to the banks - check


    Paris because: well, everyone else does it.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge

    He's got a point.

    I just went into a Shell petrol station and they wouldn't sell me BP Ultimate petrol. Further down the road, I stopped at McDonalds, asked for a flame-grilled Whopper and got told to sod off.

    Then I went into an Apple store to buy a Nokia phone and an HP laptop with Vista Ultimate installed. No joy there either.

    This anti-competetiveness is everywhere and should be stopped now.

  11. James Thomas

    This is what the BBC is for...

    I don't see this as anti-competive so much as setting a minimum reasonable standard of service for such offerings that the marketplace must at achieve.

    What Murdoch actually means is that the BBC has restricted Sky's ability to further monopolise broadcasting and gouge it's customers.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I am reminded of the Harry Enfield "Kevin and Perry's party" sketch:

    "Mu-mummy, b-bigger boys came, <blub>"

  13. Geoff Spick

    iPlayer vs BitTorrent = no contest

    Twaddle, iPlayer hasn't made a dent in my BitTorrent habits, and that is surely the market leading way of downloading TV programs.

  14. frank denton

    ITV 'catch up' service

    When the BBC started their iPlayer catch-up service, I tried it and was impressed, no problems at all in using it (Firefox browser). The service seems slow and buggy in comparison. As well as having to watch adverts there is an annoying gap between adverts and programme. You cannot click in the progress bar to go forward or backward. In full screen mode the controls do not appear at the bottom of the screen when you move the cursor there, so you have to press Esc to get out of full screen mode in order to pause a programme.

    It may be that I haven't set it up properly (in which case I await advice) but if this is the case, why was the BBC iPlayer so easy to use?

    As for the complaints about 'anti-competitiveness' and 'stifling innovation', (pause while I laugh) if the Murdoch kid had got there first with a successful offering then he'd be shouting from the rooftops about how that showed Sky as being competitive and innovative. It's just pouty posturing and FUD as is to be expected. Besides, if streaming video is easy to set up, which it obviously is, why haven't the likes of Sky and ITV got a service as good as the BBC have? I suspect that it's to do with internal management competence and organisation, plus a bit of internal turf war for good measure. Is there anyone out there in ITV or Sky land who can tell us more?

    On a practical note, I can now watch any BBC programme anytime I want and am free to make a fresh cup of tea or take a bathroom break whenever I feel the need, all thanks to the iPlayer pause button. Thank you Aunty.

  15. Stuart Castle Silver badge

    Hello pot, this is kettle.

    OK. So,Sky, the company who'se parent owns The Sun, The Times, a large chunk of ITV, Fox and various other media companies, and who has been known to buy companies purely to stop the competition (remember BSB?), thereby massively distorting the market in their favour, has the cheek to accuse the BBC of, erm, distorting the market?

    Of course, if Sky is losing money on their Anytime service, then they *could* actually provide a well-designed and stable service that doesn't install all sorts of dodgy software.

    If the BBC should be stopped from supplying iPlayer, then, in order to reverse the market distortion Sky has already done, Sky should be broken up, and the channels seperated from the platform.

  16. Rich Silver badge

    Murdock is talking rubbish

    "...but I am saying it does crowd out competition and innovation"

    How's that work then? Ok, from a purely technical point of view, it's (arguably) not "innovative" (ie - it's an old idea now), but from an "actually delivering something useful to the public" point of view, it's pretty much the first of its kind (I don't include YawnTube et-al in the "useful" category).

    And as for crowding out competition - well, (a) how? and (b) who else is trying to do something this useful? Errr... in round figures?

    Maybe the BBC should start up a satellite service that regurgitates zillions of channels of endless pap consisting of game shows and inane talk shows, and age-old sit-coms? Now that would be REALLY innovative, don't you think?

  17. Iain

    James Murdoch is upset.

    Therefore, someone must be doing something right.

  18. Stephen Usher

    Satellite drivel...

    "Maybe the BBC should start up a satellite service that regurgitates zillions of channels of endless pap consisting of game shows and inane talk shows, and age-old sit-coms? Now that would be REALLY innovative, don't you think?"

    That'll be FreeSat, coming to a dish near you soon!

  19. Guy

    Project Kangaroo

    Just in case anyones waiting for the Kangaroo to start hopping their way, apparently it's due for an August launch this year..

    As an Englishman living abroad, I personally am very eager for the launch.

    Especially when all my mates tell me how handy the iPlayer is, I get quite jealous.

    More details here

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    "but I am saying it does crowd out competition and innovation"

    He may have a point, but its not like anyone seems to be grabbing the idea by the horns and making real progress is it?.

    But my real tickle with this statement is the fact that SKY has more or less crowded out competition and innovation, as over the past decades operating in the UK what has it done for us, besides making our pockets a little lighter?

    */Crawly Alert as most of the Murdoch's seem to be blood thirsty parasites.

  21. Chad H.

    How dare they

    How dare the BBC provide its owners (us!) with what we want, when we want it (iPlayer).

    Maybe Rupert's worried about loosing one of his monopolies to this new fangled net thingie.

  22. Quirkafleeg
    Jobs Horns

    iPlayer iCan iGet iLost

    Never mind the catch-up stuff and $ky. They're using this for video clips on their news pages too, effectively replacing the media player of your choice with the media player of their choice.

    (Icon because of its caption.)

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Michael O'Leary

    Do you think he and James Murdoch were separated at birth?

  24. Graham Marsden

    Excuse me, but...

    ... that icon is my irony detector going up in flames!!

  25. jimbo
    Black Helicopters

    James M. is a Chip off the Old Block

    I would like to say that this is the sort of irresponsible behaviour that gets a public service corporation a bad reputation with International Corporate Media.

    Auntie, I'm shocked, shocked!! :--P

  26. David H
    Thumb Up

    Death of a monopoly

    Murdoch is upset because the new-found popularity of the iPlayer has significantly brought forward the day when many people will realise that they can (broadly speaking) get almost everything that Sky currently offers (except perhaps live sports coverage, but that day will surely come) for less from the internet.

    All I can say is that the world will be a much better place once the Sky subscription TV monopoly is well and truly broken; the Murdoch boys are scared of real competition which was all too evident when they blocked Virgin Media from taking over ITV with their ITV shares purchase.

  27. Nev
    Paris Hilton


    BBC : Teletext, Nicam, RDS the list is endless.


    Sky/Newscorp : Fuck all.

    BBC is a clear winner in the innovation stakes.

    When will people stop giving their money to Murdoch and his spawn ?

    I bet even Paris hasn't got as much brass as the Dirty Digger.

  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Shabble

    BBC v Sky = socialism + capitalism

    There are only two multimedia multi-platform 'channels' that have true global brand awareness; one is Fox/NewsCorp/Sky, and the other is the BBC. Ever since Thatcher allowed Murdoch to own an illegal percentage of the UK newspaper industry, Sky has been on the advance. In comparison, it's competitor, the BBC, initially struggled to find its place in the post-socialism, ultra-capitalist modern world. However, the BBC is that unimagined thing: a publicly owned and run organisation capable of competing with private businesses. Not only is it now seen as a much more trustworthy source for both written and broadcast news than the establishment-biased NewsCorp, but now it has cracked the internet TV nut that up until just a few months ago the cynics (e.g. me) said wouldn't be done for years.

    That this is possible must come as quite a shock for the Murdoch family. After all, Murdoch was chosen by Thatcher because she felt that NewsCorp would out-compete and neuter the BBC (always seen as the enemy of the incumbent governing party) and so prove that capitalism is better than socialism. To see a locally based organisation funded by the public and run by the comfortable, liberal middle-classes provide a better service than a privately funded global megacorp run by success-hungry businessmen is utterly contrary to the current political ‘market-forces’ dogma. Given James Murdoch's upbringing, he probably believes it is literally impossible for the BBC to be doing what it is doing without some kind of underhand practices going on in the background.

    Perhaps this is a sign of the shape of things to come. Public and private bodies are both important, but we have seen back in the 70s and now in the 00s what happens when either of the two types becomes overly powerful. Maybe both work best when both systems are supported and are encouraged to compete with each other. Maybe our internet provision would be better in the UK if BT had been turned into a smaller, streamlined public company competing with private companies in an open marketplace. We could take this idea further - why not allow public healthcare services like the NHS to compete in the US healthcare system? Or encourage the publicly controlled French rail transport company to compete in the UK rail network marketplace.

  30. TimM
    Thumb Down

    Simple answer Mr Murdoch...

    Let Sky subscribers who PAY for a subscription, download content they PAY for on a catch up basis like with iPlayer. DRM it to expire if you like, but just don't charge extra for low quality video downloads so people can catch up on stuff they missed.

    Once I realised as a Sky subscriber I had to pay extra to use the service, I uninstalled Sky Anytime for PC.

    As a BBC Licence Fee payer however, I can use iPlayer for no extra charge.

    So, if you want competition, try competing!

  31. James Pickett


    This wouldn't be the same NewsCorp that collaborated with the Chinese government to throw the BBC and their Imperialist (but accurate) news reports off the Star satellite, by any chance?

    I'll buy a Sky dish the day Rupert Murdoch starts paying UK taxes...

  32. Anonymous Coward


    Neubula Electronics had a PCI freeview card back in 2000/2001 and updated versions now.

    Fairly simple back then for myself, record Transport stream, encode with VDub on a batch process or on demand. Far advanced to iPlayer because it picked the stream up at a very high bandwidth, recorded everything on a rolling loop, no time outs or deletions or select set of programs, live tv , rewind and fast forward control, reencoding from source for an iPod or just to DVD.

    We even had it playing the world cup live in the office from my home computer in 2002, so anyone with internet access could watch it.

    Everyone had the same idea when they started digging into an uncompressed digital stream being sent over the air.

  33. Robert Long

    No representation without taxation

    When Sky starts paying tax in the UK they can have a say in how things are run.

    In the meantime, I pay my TV licence and I hope and expect that the BBC will use that to crush their competitors by producing better quality programmes and supporting them with interesting and useful ancillary services. I'm not paying this money so that the Beeb can carefully create slightly second-class programmes so as not to "compete" with anybody, let alone a bunch of crooked wankers like the Murdochs.

  34. T. Harrell

    Sky? Tax?

    Not sure where this assumption that Sky doesn't pay British taxes comes from.. A quick google jump to Sky's annual balance sheet shows that they pay a whopping amount of tax to the UK gov, as any other UK business would...

  35. Mat Bettinson

    No tax?

    Internet bloke innit. Just makes stuff up. They shelled out £250M of tax last year by the looks of it,.

  36. Nic Hoy
    Black Helicopters

    el reg subscription cancelled

    i feel extremely let down by the non-innovative use of the phrase 'Howling Mad' anywhere in this article

  37. Matthew Newstead
    Black Helicopters

    Match of the Day!

    Anti Competitive?

    The iPlayer doesn't host 'Match of the Day' whatsoever!!

    Why? because the BBC can only share the TV viewing rights of football matches for up to 24 hours before Sky etc claw them back. The BBC decided that the iPlayer would be in breach of this.

    Plainly, the Beeb have done everything to be complicit with competition law, and in my mind, only Youtube is a direct 'competitor' for video delivery to your computer/mobile.

    Would be nice to have a comment from the Youtube camp on what they make of the iPlayer

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