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MP accuses BBC head of illegally favoring Microsoft

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 14 Jan 2008 11:08 User comments (4)

MP accuses BBC head of illegally favoring Microsoft Last Wednesday, at a House of Commons hearing regarding procurement, Liberal Democrat John Pugh was critical of the BBC's Director General over the decision to support Windows and Internet Explorer exclusively in the initial release of the iPlayer. The iPlayer is intended to allow U.K. residents the ability to download recent programs to view for a limited time. They also offer a Streaming player that uses Flash technology, making it compatible with other operating systems and browsers.
Thompson defended the iPlayer program saying "All the feedback we've had is that consumers are enormously enjoying using iPlayer. About a million people in this country have tried it already."

But Pugh apparently wasn't satisfied with what he heard. He followed up his questioning with a scathing letter to Thompson that has been published by The Register, including the following passage.

The more fundamental issue is its failure to apply open standards and be sufficiently interoperable to work fully (stream and download) on more than one platform. The BBC is funded by licence players not all of whom have or choose to use a computer running Windows XP or Vista. By guaranteeing full functionality to the products of one software vendor it is as a public body handing a commercial advantage to that company - effectively illegal state aid! The aspiration to eventually (you said within two years) remove this advantage - does not rebut this charge. A promise of amendment is never sufficient excuse for past sins or indeed much of an explanation.

Most major web based developments of any scale these days work on the presumption that interoperablity, open standards, and platform neutrality are givens. It is not clear why the BBC design brief did not specify these requirements or if it did what technical problems - given the expertise available - hinder them being implemented.

So long as the iPlayer is bundled in with Windows/Internet Explorer it continues to run the risk of breaching state aid rules - as the benefits it thereby bestows on Microsoft (with their somewhat blemished reputation for fair competition) come via the deployment of the public’s licence money. What might be a pragmatic choice for a privately funded company becomes deeply problematic for a public corporation.


You can read the letter in its entirety on The Register's website.

Source: The Register

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4 user comments

114.1.2008 16:46

then the MP should fund Iplayer more and let them dev for over OS's and browsers....

219.1.2008 10:41

zippy chap, the BBC gets subsidized by the TV licence we pay in the uk, so effectivly they are getting paid (given) money to develope it anyway.

Basically for the sake of a DMR system that didnt work, which I and many other people 2 showed to be flawed, in some earlier post in the year.

Strangely since it also became flash based:

http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/12516.cfm

Traffic has been up four fold......

Really im not mad at the BBC for sticking with the microsoft DRM system as long as they did, as pre all of this drm was pretty hot... however the wind of drm turned at the right time.

Im just glad that someone saw some sense that there was no point implimenting a DRM system that was flawed, could be cracked and locking to one older os when if someone was ever seriously going to steal content from a tv show they would go after a dvb feed which was far better quality and uncrypted.

I must say since its flash re-launch its really good, i prefer the bbc iplayer to the 4OD service anyday.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Jan 2008 @ 13:09

319.1.2008 12:57

Originally posted by plazma247:
zippy chap, the BBC gets subsidized by the TV licence we pay in the uk, so effectivly they are getting paid (given) money to develope it anyway.

Basically for the sake of a DMR system that didnt work, which I and many other people 2 be flawed, in some earlier post in the year they were tying it to windows xp for no reason.

Strangely since it also became flash based:

http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/12516.cfm

Traffic has been up four fold......

Really im not mad at the BBC for sticking with the microsoft DRM system as long as they did, as pre all of this drm was pretty hot... however the wind of drm turned at the right time.

Im just glad that someone saw some sense that there was no point implimenting a DRM system that was flawed, could be cracked and locking to one older os when if someone was ever seriously going to steal content from a tv show they would go after a dvb feed which was far better quality and uncrypted.

I must say since its flash re-launch its really good, i prefer the bbc iplayer to the 4OD service anyday.

2 rules for goverment is either underfunded or mishandled :P

427.1.2008 18:01

It's all about Dollars and Cents.

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