BBC Trust: Crippled, streaming-only BBC iPlayer for Apple Macs won’t do

“The BBC must deliver an online TV catch-up service that lets users of all computers download programmes, the corporation’s regulators have said,” The BBC reports on itself.

“It comes after the BBC said a download service for Mac and Linux users was not 100% definite and would depend on cost,” The Beeb reports. “A spokesman for the BBC Trust said it had approved the iPlayer on the condition of ‘platform neutrality,’ including a download service. The BBC said it ‘had not ruled out’ a download system for non-Windows PCs. But, the corporation has promised video streaming for those platforms as well as Windows users by the end of 2007. It has also said it remains ‘committed to platform neutrality.'”

The Beeb reports, “When asked if offering just video streaming across all platforms would fulfil the BBC Trust’s terms of approval for iPlayer, a spokesman for the regulators said: ‘We required platform neutrality across downloads, streaming and cable [set-top boxes].'”

“On Monday, the BBC’s director of Future Media and Technology Ashley Highfield said: ‘We need to get the streaming service up and look at the ratio of consumption between the services and then we need to look long and hard at whether we build a download service for Mac and Linux.’ He added: ‘It comes down to cost per person and reach at the end of the day,'” The Beeb reports. “The BBC Trust spokesman added: ‘We would expect BBC management to come back to us if they are planning any changes to iPlayer.'”

“The BBC has said the problem in offering a cross-platform download service lies in protecting rights holders’ content,” The Beeb reports. “All downloaded video content from the BBC contains digital rights management (DRM) technology to prevent the programmes being copied and to ensure the content is only available for 30 days. The BBC says the DRM offered by Microsoft – which is not available for Linux and has not been licensed from Microsoft by Apple for Macs – is the only solution at present.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “AJK” for the heads up.]

MacDailyNews Take: It sounds like they got a few emails today!

25 Comments

  1. I thought the emails would probably flood into the Trust but whether that was the cause of the Trust’s response or not I don’t know.

    Credit to the Beeb for quickly publishing the Trust’s response.

  2. We are very much aware that without thinking about it we could have developed a system from the start that was platform neutral. It’s just that we are British, not Americans. We don’t live and breathe technology like you yanks, so when this big bald guy showed up with a solution, we took it. At first we weren’t sure, but he threw a chair at us and it really frightened us so we did what he told us.

  3. The Beeb may have to come to a deal which provides information to Apple for onward transmission to consumers.

    Apple haven’t shared their DRM tech and I don’t think the Beeb market – which doesn’t have a revenue stream attached – is big enough for Apple to cry about missing from the mac platform

  4. “The BBC says the DRM offered by Microsoft – which is not available for Linux and has not been licensed from Microsoft by Apple for Macs – is the only solution at present.”

    Why should Apple have to license Microsoft’s DRM? Surely it would have been up to MS to actually keep WMP in development for Mac long with their DRM.

    I can understand that DRM may be necessary for the downloads and it’s just a pitty Apple didn’t provide their own solution.

  5. “the DRM offered by Microsoft – which is not available for Linux and has not been licensed from Microsoft by Apple for Macs”
    So the reason Microsoft haven’t made their DRM compatible with Macs is that Apple haven’t licensed it? Did Microsoft have to license FairPlay to get iTunes on Windows? I doubt it.

  6. I sent this to the BBC Trust:

    I believe that the BBC is discriminating against users of Operating Systems other than Windows, e.g. Apple Mac OS X and the various Unix flavours.

    Ashley Highfield is reported to have said ‘We need to get the streaming service up and look at the ratio of consumption between the services and then we need to look long and hard at whether we build a download service for Mac and Linux… It comes down to cost per person and reach at the end of the day… We are not ruling it out. But we are not committing to it at this stage.’

    As a licence payer, the BBC should provide a broadly equal service to all licencees, and it should not be based on cost per person.
    I have a suspicious feeling that the BBC courted Mr Gates far too strongly on his recent visit to the UK – “fawning” is the word that springs to mind.

    It is “consumer market sales share” that should be of interest to the BBC, not total market sales share which includes bulk sales of PCs to big commercial enterprises.
    The consumer market share of Linux and OS X is probably in excess of 20%.

    Also, recent statistics show that Apple’s growth in sales, particularly of laptops, is about twice that of other computer suppliers.
    These statistics are readily available on the web. There are also published market statistics which show that Apple Mac users tend to have more disposable income. How do the BBC plan to build that into whatever economic modelling they are using.

    Basically, there should be no discrimination!
    Economic modelling implies discrimination and that is not in the BBC’s Charter.

    The BBC should look to the future which may see a considerable shrinkage in the domestic market share for Windows based PCs.

    Yours sincerely
    John Crawford

  7. attn: webmaster

    where is the damn print command on your website?!

    when readers want to save a web page, many prefer to use the print command in order to strip out all the non-editorial content so that the serach-space for resulting file is not polluted with extraneous keywords (from navbars, adverts etc).

    please install a print command (and please do NOT use javascript to implement it! … simple css3/xhmtl2 will be sufficient – or even html5 … many readers prefer to browse with javascript & actionscript turned off because they are usually buggy and slow).

  8. M.X.N.T.4.1. made an excellent point. iTunes puts mac DRM on a windows machine, thus its the only true cross-platform solution. Technically (or politically), microsoft doesn’t want to make a drm solution and that is absurd. A wmv file can be wrapped in a DRM jacket, then timed via the flip4mac plug in in quicktime. This is the solutution and the problem, microsoft has wmv, their proprietary standard, but its probably the fact they want to push windows media player above quicktime player, or any other 3rd party one. Brb . . . Ok, I just tested it, and you can play a drmed itunes video in quicktime player, you don’t need iTunes except to download and authorize. Someone please let me know if the same applies in windows. If so, present the case to the BBC, that mac Fairplay DRM is truly cross-platform, and a solution exists. The BBC could have videos play through iTunes in a free, subscribable, podcast type of way, it would be fully DRM, but not timed (at this point) and since most people use ipods/iTunes anyway, its not that inconvenient. All the kinks have already been worked out on Apples end, the videos only need to be uploaded, and, it brings tremendous growth to the BBC by playing on iTunes, iTV, ipods, and the iphone.

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