The BBC, Giving Incompetence a Bad Name

The news has been slowly breaking over the last few weeks that the BBC’s new “On Demand” service will be limited to Microsoft Windows.  Yes, thats right, the organisation funded by an enforced stealth tax is pulling another fast one by limiting it’s new service to just those running Windows.  I’m really struggling to see why, the reason given is, of course, DRM, but there are number of questions that must be answered before I’ll buy that.

  • Firstly, I am assuming there will be some form of proprietry player involved.  If so, why the reliance on Windows?  And more specifically, Windows based DRM which has already been shown to be ineffective, overly restrictive and easy to crack.  Personally, I pay the license fee so I’d rather the BBC use a stronger means of DRM so those who don’t fund the BBC, can’t easily crack their protection.
  • I pay my license fee and I cannot restrict how the BBC spends my portion of it, therefore, I would not expect any restrictions on content I helped to pay for in the first place.
  • If only the BBC would look at their own content.  A search for Linux Security on the BBC website returns 28 results.  Apple Security returns 56.  These are two platforms that the BBC are shunning.  Yet, the platform the BBC are choosing seems to have a whole bunch of results.  Windows Security returns 372 results.  Bearing in mind that many users of the BBC’s site and services are far from IT literate, actively encouraging them to use a platform that is, judging from their own content, seven times more insecure than its closest rival, is at best irresponsible and worse negligent.
  • The BBC have a poor track record with delivering content to me.  Considering I’m an OSX user, I am pretty much limited to Real Player, a piece of software many consider to be badware.  Of course, even if your running Windows, Internet Explorer and the required media player, it’s still difficult to use and unreliable.  Not to mention that, despite the fact we all have broadband (or at least all those of us who expect to watch video online) the quality is absolutely shocking.  I don’t think they’ve heard of compression.
  • I’m unsure as to what will and won’t be crippled by DRM.  The BBC currently offers news, sport and other content for free download and live streaming without any restrictions.  Some are even in a decent format.  Take the unbearable breakfast podcast, you can get it in MP4.  Why can’t I get everything in MP4?  They obviously have the technology, just maybe not the common sense.
  • The cheapest new Vista license I could find is £100, and thats an upgrade from XP.  The cheapest linux license is free.  A Mac Mini is cheaper than any machine running Windows Vista fully.  Why is the BBC inflicting this additional cost on its already financially drained public.  And, almost like mirroring the license fee, you cannot get away from the charge.  Next, we’ll get pop-up messages on the BBC website warning that Linux detection vans are patrolling our area.

If you are as outraged by the entire thing as I am I would suggest filling out the form here and emailing pvtconsultation.ondemand@bbc.co.uk with your feedback.  And just as a closing thought, the proposal makes specific mention of “the BBC must not, therefore, limit consumer choice”, which, it seems, only applies to content and not the platform you choose.