With 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