BBC issues recently

BBC TV Centre

The BBC has been getting quite a lot of attention recently. I obviously can't say anything from a BBC perpective only my own personal view. So in lawyer speak, these are the views of myself and myself alone. They are not the and should not be taken as the official view of the BBC.

So the first and most public is the announcement about the Memo of Understanding with Microsoft. Via Slashdot

Microsoft has signed a memorandum of understanding with the BBC for 'strategic partnerships' in the development of next-generation digital broadcasting techniques. They are also speaking to other companies such as Real and Linden Labs. Windows Media Centre platform, Windows Live Messenger application and the Xbox 360 console have all been suggested as potential gateways for BBC content. It is unclear how this impacts on existing BBC research projects such as Dirac, although it is understood that the BBC would face heavy criticism if its content was only available via Microsoft products.

Slashdot has lots of critism and we didn't get a glowing review in the Guardian either. Dave's been sending me updates from the Free Software foundation UK list but Miles outlays a view point which I think quite a few people have (I assumed this was ok to publish miles?).

Any technology alliance the BBC enters into with a commercial software and DRM vendor should explicitly define open standards and open content. At the present time, where DRM implementations are not interoperable because of commercial competition in the DRM market, and software vendors' desire to dominate that market, producing proprietary and DRMed content locks the partnership in, and locks consumers in. Whilst it may be legitimate for a company to do this, a broadcaster that is funded by a mandatory public subscription (the license fee), and which has, in effect, as a direct result, a quasi-monopoly, should not abuse its position, and shaft a public which has no choice.

The cynic in me believes broadcasters are doing this on purpose – because they want “IP TV” to fail so they can prolong their existing business models.

Certainly these are very strong words.

And on to the other issue… Thanks to Bahi for this heads up. There's been talk about the BBC ripping off Flickr photographs. Ripping off and Scandal are very strong words indeed but if you do actually follow the Scotland Flickr discussion. The bit which got everyones backs up, lies in this part of what the editor of BBC Scotland says.

I wondered if anyone would be willing to give me advance permission to use their pictures as and when the need arises? We'd still always send you a message telling you we'd used a picture and we'd credit you in the alt tag (and possibly the caption as well).

All I can say is this was always going to be a difficult thing to explain.

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Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.