back to article OFT won't block BBC's über set top box

When Microsoft attempted to nobble an open industry technical standard to its own ends, there was a loud outcry. But what happens when a cartel of broadcasters try to do just that? Perhaps because the BBC is leading the charge, a popular uprising is nowhere to be found. The Office of Fair Trading today confirmed it will not …


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  1. Ben Tasker

    I'm not entirely sure I see a problem here

    I can completely understand why Sky and Virgin are pissed, but you know what? We all pay for the BBC through our License fee. It is a Government approved monopoly in this country, if they want to be the 'gatekeepers' of content in this country, then that's better than someone who's going to try and screw the customer out of more money.

    I know people resent the license fee, but compare it to what Sky/Virgin charge you (keeping in mind the extra you need to pay to get the _good_ content), and tell me it doesn't represent value for money. OK, so you may not like all the programming (I don't) and I'd back you if you called for Strictly Come Sequins to be dropped, but there's a lot of other content available.

    Frankly anything that increases the opportunity to access content, without paying through the nose to Branson/Murdoch is a good thing in my view. I'm certainly not willing to pay £30 a month to watch telly that still includes advertising!

    Beer, cos I could really really use one!

    1. Anonymous Coward

      "We all pay for the BBC through our License fee"

      Not for much longer though.

  2. jimboflo


    So when Sky and Virgin create totally locked down platforms for content delivery that is all good however when the BBC + others attempt to make a open platform you are screwing a competitor you don't like. Give us a break.

    I trust Rupert signs your cheques for this tripe personally.

    1. Craig 12


      "So when Sky and Virgin create totally locked down platforms"

      I don't have cable, but I know if you really wanted, you could broadcast a channel on the right freq, and Sky people could tune in to it for free via the 'Other channels'. It's just the EPG Sky control, which is, um, exactly what the BBC will control, so your "open platform" is bullshit.

      Their is already a standard for this. Sky also do a better job in IPTV (xbox and media center). BT do a lot too. This is classic BBC doing whatever they want rather than co-operate with industry.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Um ...

        So if I want to I can broadcast a channel on cable which Sky people can tune in to ...?

        Care to explain how i'd go about doing that exactly?

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Two words: "Market share"

      BBC + ITV + C4 + Five = an Oligopoly.

      Do you know what one is? Do you need me to Google it for you?

      Good to see some independent journalism El Reg. Some Beebtards would happy with a license fee of £500 a year and no competition at all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        £500? Bargain.

        I'd happily pay a £500 licence fee if it meant the removal of Murdoch's media outlets in the UK.

        1. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

          Re: £500? Bargain.

          I'll forward the money for you.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      ....and this kind of "journalism" has been occurring a lot recently on the Reg, from the same names. It's becoming a fun game to "guess the journalist" each time my eyebrows raise at blatant corporate propaganda. I wonder what a shill has to do before he's rumbled? Brand the editor's wife's forehead with a corporate logo?

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: indeed

        Oh, *do* fuck off.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          a cogent and well-reasoned argument

's almost as if I insulted *you personally* with my post. ;)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            La Moderatrix keeps her cool

            I mean if the * * had been around the *off*, you would know she was really annoyed.

      2. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: indeed

        You need to address the cartel question.

        This might involve thinking, though.

  3. marksi

    Ummmm... it not healthy for there to be a competitor to Murdoch?

    This article reads as an anti-BBC rant, when in fact it is a project being undertaken by 7 companies, and is unworthy of The Register IMO.

  4. Danny 14


    and people wonder why BBC wanted to nobble other iplayer-esq clones.

  5. SlabMan


    Ignoring than the inconvenient facts that the Canvas doc have been submitted to the DTG, and will form part of D-Book 7, to be published by December 2010, the story is spot on!

    So, to summarise, the BBC have ignored a standard by submitting to it and being included in it.

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Open is closed.

      The BBC's possibly ignored several standards, but we don't know for certain because the detailed specifications are secret and under NDA. The DTG is a UK-only defender of our walled garden. OpenIPTV by contrast specs are, well, open and global. But basing a Canvas box on truly open standards may have opened up the market much wider. Can't be having that, UK viewers must be protected by having a UK only device serving up nice, UK approved content in a UK approved manner. If it stays a UK only platform and means fewer devices get made, so less competition and higher prices, well, that's too bad.

      1. It wasnt me
        Thumb Up

        Have you ever been abroad ?

        If you've ever seen any foreign TV, you'll probably agree that this isnt such a bad thing.

  6. The Mole 1
    Thumb Up

    Viewer says yes

    You fail to explain why this is a problem to the viewer (and therefore why the BBC trust wouldn't/shouldn't say yes).

    All the viewer wants is to view catchup services on their TV without spending lots of money in a easy to use way which is consistent from multiple broadcasters. This appears to be doing exactly that. The viewer also trusts the BBC that they will act in a relatively fair and open manner (accepting teh BBC will do its best to keep the BBC alive - which is what the normal viewer actually wants anyway).

    So all we seem to have is an industry group putting forward some standards owned by members in the group to give the viewer what they want. The industry group has a good cross section of competitors and is open to other industry members to join if they want to join the party.

    So where is the problem and why should the viewers be concerned or the BBC Trust reject it?

  7. chr0m4t1c

    This would be...

    The same Virgin Media with the positively stone-age interface on their own set top boxes and the same Sky who "exclusively partnered" with TiVo in 2003 only to sink the product in the UK in favour of their own woeful interface?

    Quite frankly, the two of them have set back the UK DVR market years and they need to be put on the naughty step for a bit.


  8. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

    Copyright versus Open Source

    Copyright does not in itself automatically exclude open source, it's how that copyrighted stuff is licensed which dictates what can and cannot be done. The real question is exactly what is being dictated and controlled and what is allowed?

    I personally don't see a problem with some controls which after all define the essence of a particular product or services - something entirely different isn't that product nor service - and most standards mandate certain compliances.

    That doesn't necessarily mean everything is perfect, but lets look at reality and practical aspects not just engage in fearmongering and perceived Big Brother bashing.

  9. Tim Brown 1
    Dead Vulture

    The 2nd...

    BBC-bashing article from The Reg in as many days? The Corporation is far from perfect but compared with their commercial rivals they do give very good value for money and provide largely ad-free output.

    I am at a loss to think of any occasion when the BBC has seriously abused its monopoly position, if only the same could be said of the other large media organisations.

    What suggestion is there that the BBC do not intend Canvas to be used as an open standard?

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      where are the specs?

      One obvious suggestion would be lack of specifications. If it's open, why aren't those freely available?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        where are the specs?

        They're on top of your head, silly.

  10. The BigYin

    The iPlayer was good...

    ...up until the Beeb screwed it up with the whole flash-player-block thing (is there a workaround for that yet? Can I view the content I have already paid for on the player of my choice?)

    So long as I can get "a device" and plug that device into my network (or direct to a PC), the device transmits in an open, non_DRM format so I can time shift broadcasts how I see fit, then I am happy.

    If the device turns out to be a sack of crap, then I shall just turn to other sources for entertainments. Simples.

    1. alex dekker 1


      Worked when I downloaded "Welcome to Lagos" a few weeks ago.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge


      get_iplayer along with rtmpdump has never stopped working

  11. Anonymous Coward

    The BBC doesn't like competition

    The BBC lobbied hard against the creation of ITV in the first place.

    It hasn't changed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      And the never wanted any television in the first place either, companies change over several decades, who'd of thought

  12. redbook

    "And now on BBC1 and in HD.. Screwing the licence payer"

    But as I understand it, access to the EPG metadata is closed. So manufacturers have to pay a licence/royalty to sell kit that uses it. Which also means the OS community can't develop their own equivalents Please tell me I'm wrong!

    The EPG (as Murdoch realised) is where the power (money) lies.

  13. Tom 15

    Not digital broadcasting

    If the Canvas box is using an Internet connection rather than an aerial then it's not digital broadcasting, non?

  14. Timjl


    As far as I'm concerned the function of Sky and Virgin is to apply pressure to the BBC to innovate and improve. I certainly don't want them to get to anything like an equal footing.

  15. marksi


    The tuner in a Sky box only supports a limited number of transmission parameters, controlled by Sky. Despite having an "other channels" function, it is not as open as a FTA satellite box.

  16. Dave Moffatt

    Canvas is...

    an IPTV project. The key partners are BT, BBC, Arquiva and a few others.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    All I want...

    Is a user interface that I can choose the order of programs I watch. I don't subscribe to the idea of locked EPGs with programs ordered by morons. (or the highest bidder) Wind the clock back and every TV or Video would allow the user to shuffle the channels as he saw fit. This is progress?

    thought not.

  18. b166er


    BBC good or BBC bad?

    Yes, that's right, BBC good. Proceed.

    Either that, or get rid of the BBC and I'll happily never watch any television again.

  19. Oldfogey

    @ not digital broadcaasting

    Or any sort of broadcasting - so no licence required to watch it.

    100% legal freeloading; I like it.


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