BBC’s iPlayer: why?

Illustrates the dangers posed by corporate capture of state instutions (and yes, the BBC is part of the British state):

…the iPlayer is not what it claimed to be, it is built top-to-bottom on a Microsoft-only stack, the BBC management team who are responsible for the iPlayer are a checklist of senior employees from Microsoft who were involved with Windows Media. A gentleman called Erik Huggers who’s responsible for the iPlayer project in the BBC, his immediately previous job was director at Microsoft for Europe, Middle East & Africa responsible for Windows Media. He presided over the division of Windows Media when it was the subject of the European Commission’s antitrust case. He was the senior director responsible. He’s now shown up responsible for the iPlayer project.

From an e-democracy point of view, the interview includes a good illustration of how MySociety’s petitioning system for Number 10 is becoming part of the political process (despite all the criticisms). You can read PM’s response to the petition here

Update – 25 October
Something not mentioned in the Groklaw interview, but picked up by Simon Dickson today: on 15 October

The BBC and Adobe Systems Incorporated … announced a strategic relationship around the delivery of Web video. By adopting Adobe Flash Player software, the BBC will make its free catch-up TV service – BBC iPlayer – available as a streaming service across Macintosh and Linux, as well as Windows, by the end of the year.
Source press release here [PDF]

It took 2+ years and £123m pounds to develop the iPlayer; Adobe will have streaming Flash in place by the end of the year: doesn’t say much about the BBC’s choice of technology. I guess one issue will be making sure any embedded Flash movies can only be seen in the UK, but YouTube already does that. OK, offline playback will still be missing, but that’s not such a big deal for me since I don’t have a video iPod or anything, and there are a lot of people like me out there (I think!).

About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
This entry was posted in Daily Links, e-democracy, ipr, UK. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to BBC’s iPlayer: why?

  1. SimonD says:

    I used to care about offline access… until I realised precisely how little of my life is actually offline.

  2. Exactly, and there will be ever fewer ‘isolates’ out there as data streaming services from the mobile companies continues to get cheaper.

    And I’d agree with you that the default position of any new development should be to allow embedding of your content by whoever wants to. Subject of course to forming a judgement over contractual (IPR) and legal (data protection, libel) issues, which I think people are now beginning to wake up to.

    Back to the original subject… the original Groklaw article has sprouted some feedback of its own – worth reading in particular is ‘Anonymous on Tuesday, October 23 2007 @ 07:20 PM EDT’ – who was part of the iPlayer development team and is not complementary about the project’s management, to put it mildly. In short, he thinks the mess arose as a result of the BBC’s shift from public service to corporation-type values.

  3. Peter says:

    I just found that Adobe’s Mike Downey blogged on this on 15 October too – here.

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