BBC's iPlayer and the Windows DRM monopoly

BBC iPlayerWith the BBC’s Internet TV service, iPlayer, set to launch in open Beta tomorrow, the public service broadcaster is facing mounting criticism because the application runs on Windows-based computers only. An e-petition on the UK government’s own website is calling for the iPlayer to be made compatible with computers running the Mac OS and Linux, and has so far collected over 10,000 “signatures”, prompting the BBC to reiterate its claim that a version which supports other operating systems will be made available “as soon as possible”.

Meanwhile the Open Source Consortium (OSC) has met with the BBC Trust (the body charged with regulating the BBC) to discuss the iPlayer’s Windows-only support.

The Register reports that the meeting was constructive, with OSC president Mark Taylor quoted as saying:

“We are very pleased with what was a very positive meeting. The trust was keen to remind us of the BBC’s commitment to platform neutrality in general and its commitment to making the iPlayer equally platform neutral. But they were unable to explain how this was going to happen.”

Autumn is being banded about by the BBC’s own website as a possible date for the release of a Mac version of iPlayer. However, I fail to see how this is possible. iPlayer utilizes Windows Media DRM, and as far as I’m aware, Microsoft doesn’t have any plans to suddenly start supporting the Mac OS again, which has long been abandoned by Windows Media. What’s even more baffling is why, after four years of R&D and three million pounds of funding, the BBC needed to outsource its DRM solution in the first place — knowing full well a DRM-supported version of Windows Media isn’t available for Mac or Linux-based PCs. Sadly, for now at least, the BBC, like its UK competitors, have bought into the Microsoft DRM monopoly.

Also see: Five UK Internet TV offerings compared

last100 is edited by Steve O'Hear. Aside from founding last100, Steve is co-founder and CEO of Beepl and a freelance journalist who has written for numerous publications, including TechCrunch, The Guardian, ZDNet, ReadWriteWeb and Macworld, and also wrote and directed the Silicon Valley documentary, In Search of the Valley. See his full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

3 Responses to “BBC's iPlayer and the Windows DRM monopoly”

  1. oneup says:

    You stupid beep..you said ” BBC, like its UK competitors, have bought into the Microsoft DRM monopoly” that is a stupid statement..why can the world just leave Microsoft alone..I had never seen such a hate for one company who created a very thing we are using today to sure the net and run our business..

    I have realize one thing if not the only thing that the world hate sucessful companies onces they are sucessful dumb stupid people try to protest about it and can you guess what they are protesting about..not the product is bad..is because they want some if not all the $$$$$$$$$$..is the green people..GOT GREEN..

    I hope all you dumb stupid people who pay $300+ for a stupid MP3 (Ipod) player and think is god go get a life out side of your dark 4 x 4 room please..the sun is shining and the air is cool..and use your brain not just listen to what people and the media has to blah blah blah about shit they don’t even know about..

    Final word…Go Micorsoft..the little thomas train that could…

  2. David Mackey says:

    Being a Windows user this isn’t too big of a concern to me right now, though I am always happy to see things made available on a variety of platforms (I occasionally dabble with Linux/Mac). I am more excited about BBC’s decision to release this content and am looking forward to seeing what exactly it consists of. They have a lot of great content.

  3. Hello,

    I’m not bashing Microsoft, I simply don’t run it at my home. Free is better in my book, as is the overall system of support built around linux, my OS of preference. I cut the chord when Vista was released. It makes new computers slow. By comparison, Linux makes older computers run quite well. The choice was easy for me at that point. I hope that a linux player is made available. The BBC has great content the world would like legal access to. DRM is an effort to protect a business model that just doesn’t work any more. Oh well, the industry as a whole is starting to figure this out. Maybe one day, we will be given media choices we all can live with. Until that day, consumers are either overcharged, forced into using bloated operating systems when there are free alternatives, or made into criminals in an effort to watch a show that isn’t reasonably available.

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