More iPlayer flack for a beleaguered BBC

2 08 2007


Poor old Auntie, it’s already suffered a bit of a drubbing in the blogosphere following the beta release of its iPlayer internet catch-up service. Among the critics are those insisting that the BBC should immediately make available versions of the service compatible with Apple Mac and Linux operating systems — a relatively small, but very vocal and media-savvy bunch [is it mere coincidence that many Apple Mac owners also happen to work in media and entertainment industry-related jobs?].

A 10 Downing Street petition aiming to press the point has already garnered over 14,000 e-signatures [at time of posting], with a spike in new ones since all of the blog chatter increased during the last fortnight.

Now, the Free Software Foundation, a group “dedicated to promoting computer users’ rights to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs” is to take its latest campaign offline and protest the BBC’s offices in London and Manchester on 14 August.

The group claims the BBC’s appointment of senior manager Erik Huggers, formerly a director at Microsoft’s Windows digital media division, is as good as saying that the Beeb is in bed with Bill Gates.

Somehow, I don’t make the connection (at least not to the extent of the conspiracy theory purportedly playing out).

It’s akin to claiming that another large organisation hiring an ex-Enron employee to a senior role would mean that hire would act illegally.

So the BBC is aiming to future-proof its services by poaching expertise from a blue chip technology company; just as every other major operator in the content space is. Are there not other ex-Microsoft employees working in other senior roles at other organisations? 

Returning to the BBC iPlayer: which other broadcaster or other online video provider has been forced to provide Mac and Linux versions from day one? So the organisation is funded by everyone with a TV in the U.K. and is mandated to be platform agnostic.

But at which precise moment in time has the BBC made a statement saying it wasn’t working on versions of the iPlayer software suitable for other operating systems?

Hopefully the BBC’s new governance unit the BBC Trust won’t be scared into any knee-jerk response — it has, after all, been open season on BBC-bashing during all of the recent ‘faking it’ scandals which, in fairness, have been exposed across the U.K. broadcasting industry and not just at Auntie.

There’s a faint whiff of some opportunistic BBC-bashing by a handful of individuals who should get out some more. Flame away, but this same tiny constituency is wrongfully distorting the truth. Why not focus your activity on something far more pressing? [see post immediately above].