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Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group, on the BBC, iPlayer and DRM, interviewed by Sean Daly
Friday, November 09 2007 @ 12:07 AM EST

Interview with Becky Hogge, Executive Director of the Open Rights Group,
by Sean Daly, November 2, 2007

Q: This is Sean Daly, reporting for Groklaw, I'm on the wire with Becky Hogge of the Open Rights Group in the UK. Good morning.

Becky Hogge: Good morning, Sean.

Q: Now, I want to thank you very much for taking some time to speak with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the Open Rights Group? I understand that you've just added some new members to the board?

Becky Hogge: That's right. The Open Rights Group is a digital civil liberties organization based in the UK. We've been going since 2005, and we were founded by a community of one thousand concerned UK citizens who thought that the UK needed a body to inform public debate and put pressure on public policy when it came to digital civil liberties issues. So we're a group that believes that technology has great potential for society and for civic life, but that this potential is often marred by poor understanding on the behalf of media and policymakers. And wherever consumer rights, civil liberties, political rights, human rights, look like they're affected by the poor implementation or regimentation of technology, we step in and try to inform the debate. And that's right, we've just appointed three new board members. It's a very exciting time for us. We're growing, and there are a lot of issues on the table that we can help with.

Q: All right, now today I would like in particular to talk about the BBC iPlayer project.

Becky Hogge: Sure.

Q: I believe you have said that the current incarnation of the iPlayer distorts the market. Could you elaborate on that?

Becky Hogge: Well, back in March, the BBC Trust, which is the body that regulates the BBC on behalf of license fee payers -- that is, on behalf of British citizens who pay money to fund the BBC to produce public service content -- they asked whether their on-demand services which have now become the iPlayer were the right way to go for the BBC. And we said no, on a number of counts.

The first was that the use of Microsoft-only DRM was not a good way for the BBC to go. Now, we've worked since with the Open Source Consortium, and they're very concerned about this issue of platform neutrality and of market distortion, because with the BBC only using Microsoft DRM and only making its services available to Microsoft, there is the potential for market distortion there. And we always make the analogy that if the BBC developed a great new soap opera, but only let me watch it on a *Sony* TV, the public would be up in arms.

Q: Now, the BBC has repeatedly said concerning platform neutrality that they would provide iPlayer support across platforms and devices, and shortly they're going to make available streaming for Macs. Isn't this just a temporary problem?

Becky Hogge: Yes, right now it is temporary, from what we hear from the BBC. They're hoping to make a download service available to Mac users. They're still very mute on the point of whether they'll make a download service available to users of free and open source software like Linux, and that is regardless of the fact that their regulators, the BBC Trust, those who regulate them on behalf of the license fee payer, have said platform neutrality is a must. So for now it's a temporary problem, but it could be a permanent problem. And it could be a permanent problem if the BBC continues to insist on digital rights management.

Q: Now, let's talk about DRM for a moment. It seems that the current situation the BBC finds itself in with the iPlayer is largely due to the choice to use DRM. My understanding is that without DRM, the rights holders of third-party producers of television programs which are leased to the BBC would withold their programs from online distribution. What do you think is the solution to this? Should those programs just be taken offline?

Becky Hogge: OK, so you're right to identify the problem; in fact you've got it in a nutshell. The BBC is having to negotiate with the people who own the rights in the programs that it broadcasts, because the BBC doesn't own all those rights. For a start, it's bound to use 25% of its commissioning budget to commission programs from independent producers, or "indies" as they're called in the industry. And those indies, most of them, keep the rights, and, like you say, lease them to the BBC for broadcast in a certain window.

Equally, some of the BBC content that the BBC produces itself has got all sorts of complicated rights issues associated with it. That's when the actors, and the cameramen, and all the people that go into it don't necessarily sign over all the rights to the BBC in perpetuity. So this is a really, really difficult problem for the BBC. But at the Open Rights Group, we think that the BBC needs to be tackling this problem head on. Because if it doesn't, it's going to keep having to use digital rights management. And digital rights management is slowly but surely going to eke away the way it can fulfill its public service remit.

This isn't just about a small group of Linux users who can't access iPlayer and are getting stroppy about it. Using DRM is going to push the BBC into more and more of a commercial environment. And what's more, DRM is always going to lead to the kind of platform neutrality issues that the BBC is experiencing now. If you think about it, Apple iTunes, which uses the Apple DRM, is already being accused of distorting the market by regulatory bodies inside the EU. And the BBC is always going to face these issues. Now, what it could do is it could start now to think creatively about how it's going to negotiate with indies and other rights holders in the future.

Now, most recently, Ashley Highfield, who is the head of Future Media and Technology in the BBC, did a podcast with a wonderful group of people inside the BBC called BBC Backstage. And he talked about how some of the really -- what did he call them? -- flagship programs, like Top Gear -- do you know Top Gear?

Q: Yes, I saw a guy who like drove his car across a lake one time.

Becky Hogge: OK, so that's Top Gear. Now, Top Gear make a lot of money with what's called residual rights, downstream rights. So they make books, they make merchandise, there's a podcast, there's all sorts of other stuff. Now, what it sounded like in that podcast that Ashley Highfield did was he thought that if the BBC would own the rights to allow the iPlayer to download Top Gear in perpetuity without DRM, that he'd have to hand over all those rights to make books and DVDs and merchandise and such as well. Now, we don't think that that's the case. In fact, allowing Top Gear to be released to the British public would only enhance the value of those other rights because it would necessarily make it available to more people. More people would be exposed to Top Gear, and more people would, one presumes, take an interest in all this other stuff Top Gear was doing around it. Do you see what I mean?

Q: Yes, well, it seems the record companies are coming around to that point of view also.

Becky Hogge: I think that's right. And there are other situations specific to the way the BBC commissions content. So, for example, going back to indie producers, it may be possible for the BBC to allow independent producers to choose. You know, "Would you like a greater upfront payment to give all the broadcast rights to the BBC so that we could then make it available to the British public for free, and in perpetuity without DRM?" And they could then use that upfront payment to fund their next documentary, or their next film, right? So there's lots of nuanced ways that the BBC could be dealing with its significant problem of rights ownership right now that would shore up its future slightly better than relying always on DRM and other technical protection measures.

And you're right to mention that EMI, Universal, Sony BMG, are all sort of looking at new ways to exploit the content that they produce without DRM. And there's a reason for that. And that is that consumers don't like DRM. DRM gets in the way of what people want to do with the content they consume. And this is really important for the BBC. So right now, when you talk about the BBC's license fee payers -- the citizens of the UK who pay their license fee because they have a television -- which then goes on to fund the BBC to something like the tune of three billion pounds, right now, when you talk about the return that those license fees are getting on their investment, they're getting great content. And the content the BBC produces is fabulous. And they're getting investment in the creative industries in the UK. So they're being assured of a vibrant creative industry to come.

Now, that kind of works right now with broadcast. But if you think about in ten years' time, when you've got your, I don't know, you've got your housewife or your mother of three living in Winchester paying her license fee. If her children are upstairs on the Internet using content in a way that we can see people want to use content in the future -- they want to own it, they want to remix it, all that kind of stuff, they want to blog about it -- then if the BBC isn't allowing her children to do that with her content, with their content, they're probably going to be doing it with other content, with content from commercial producers who have realized that DRM is not what their consumers want. And that way public service broadcast and public service media isn't going to be reaching her children. She's going to start wondering whether her license fee is representing a good return on her investment. Do you follow me?

Q: Yes. Well, I think, if I understand correctly, that the BBC has another argument concerning DRM, which is to say, "Well, there are two separate markets. There's the UK home market, and then there's the international market. And DRM will help us to commercialize BBC content internationally outside of the UK and and make money off it." What would you respond to that? It seems like an effort for the BBC to create a revenue stream.

Becky Hogge: That's right, and in fact BBC Worldwide, which is the organization that helps the BBC monetize its content in other markets, is faced with a difficult problem there. And we're not saying that these problems aren't hard. All we're saying is the BBC needs to be engaging with them at this stage. Well, what I'd say on the BBC Worldwide issue is that the BBC does have a history of making content available for free as well to other worldwide audiences. That's through the BBC World Service and BBC World, and that the BBC could see itself as a node in a global network of media production which makes it valuable to be releasing its content to a wider audience, both for UK license fee payers and for the BBC as a whole. Now, that's not an awfully strong argument, I admit. But you also need to put the economic contribution to the BBC from BBC Worldwide against the economic contribution to the BBC from license fee payers.

This is about balancing interests. This is about balancing the interests of the license fee payers against the interests of BBC Worldwide, against the interests of maintaining a very vibrant independent production sector in the UK. And what we haven't seen at the Open Rights Group, and what we'd like to see, is some serious economic evidence produced, economic analysis of the situation the BBC is in now.

The problems that the BBC are experiencing right now, with people going after them for allegedly distorting the market, people going after them for excluding license fee payers, are only going to get worse. And what the BBC needs to do is, it needs to take a very long view of the impact that on-demand is going to have on its model.

Now, we've seen other parts of the UK government taking the long view on, for example, intellectual property rights around trading funds, people like the Ordnance Survey who make maps available to other businesses in the UK for a specific cost. And right now the government is looking at whether making those maps available -- those maps, the making of which are funded in a sense for the benefit of UK citizens -- making those maps available on a different intellectual property model and how that would affect not only public good but economic good in the UK. We think the BBC needs to be commissioning similar studies, to analyze the impact that on-demand is going to have on its economics.

Q: Now, let's talk for a moment about the document [PDF] that you submitted to the BBC Trust, the BBC oversight board. You said that you were concerned that the BBC's DRM does not consider implied legal rights and will worsen the digital divide. Could you elaborate on these two points?

Becky Hogge: OK, so that comes from a document that we submitted, as well, that thinking comes from a document that we submitted to the All Party Parliamentary Internet Group, who are now called something else, the All Party Parliamentary Communications Group, when they did an investigation into the effects of digital rights management. The problem with digital rights management is that it is in a sense judge, jury, and executioner. So if you're using the content that's restricted by DRM for permitted use -- there are certain exceptions in UK copyright law where you can use this content -- then DRM doesn't necessarily let you do that. DRM doesn't have the sophistication to understand the context in which you're using copyrighted content and allow you to use it as you're permitted to by the exceptions of UK copyright law.

Now, for example, the Gowers Review of Intellectual -- at the moment, we don't have a format-shifting exception in copyright law here in the UK, which means that people who are copying their CDs onto their iPods are in effect breaking copyright law. The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property -- are you familiar with the Gowers Review of Intellectual Property?

Q: No, in fact I'm not.

Becky Hogge: The Gowers Review of Intellectual Property was a review that the Treasury here in the UK commissioned at the beginning of 2006. It reported [PDF] in December 2006, and it made a series of recommendations which the government accepted in totality: for adding flexibility to UK copyright law, allowing for format-shifting, like I mentioned before, for exceptions for libraries and educators to use content in different ways, and for parody, pastiche, and eventually transformative use of copyrighted works.

Now, there is not going to be a DRM system that can judge the context in which you're using content to that degree of accuracy. Copyright is a balance. It's a balance between the people who hold the copyrights, and their interests in exploiting that work for their own financial gain and the incentives that that gives them to produce more work; and that is balanced up against the way that people who consume that content are permitted to use it. What DRM does is, it shifts the balance in favor of those who own the rights and away from those who consume the content, and in effect it makes a nonsense of that balance.

Q: All right.

Becky Hogge: So the fact the BBC, a public service body, in all effect is supporting this technology, we think is bad news.

Q: Now, I took a look at the BBC Charter. It states in Article 6 [PDF] that the BBC "shall be independent in all matters concerning the content of its output, the times and manner in which this is supplied, and in the management of its affairs." If I understand your position correctly, the iPlayer project breaches the Royal Charter, since license fee payers must obtain permission from Microsoft in the USA to view BBC video. Is that accurate?

Becky Hogge: It's an interesting analysis. It's an interesting analysis. So what are you saying, Sean, are you saying that because the BBC needs you to own a Microsoft operating system to view its iPlayer..?

Q: No, I was thinking more like -- again, I was looking at the document that you had sent to the BBC Trust, in which you talked about the BBC Charter -- the fact that UK content created from UK license fee payers, created in the UK and broadcast in the UK, in the case of the iPlayer DRM, needs to be routed through Microsoft in the USA in order to view it, and this was not a normal state of affairs.

Becky Hogge: So, what you're referring to is a section in our submission to the on-demand services consultation that acquiring a license from an American company "requires UK technologists, companies and hobbyists to get permission from a foreign power --"

Q: Right.

Becky Hogge: "-- in order to make use of BBC video"?

Q: Right.

Becky Hogge: There, we're talking about not UK license fee payers, but those trying to make BBC interoperable services.

Q: Ah, OK.

Becky Hogge: So, in effect, I don't know if you listened to Ashley Highfield's podcast [Ogg]?

Q: Yes, I did.

Becky Hogge: He talks about making an API for the iPlayer available. And I'd be really interested to see how that works, especially in light of the recent European decision about interoperability with Microsoft products. I think it's too early to say until we view the process whether this risk that we've identified in the on-demand services consultation brief is actually going to happen, but that's certainly something that we're going to be keeping an eye on.

Q: OK. Now, it was widely reported that the BBC signed a letter of intent with Microsoft which covered the iPlayer, DRM, and other cooperation. Have you seen the document? Is the document available? Do you know what it says?

Becky Hogge: I don't know what it says, I haven't seen it, and I don't know if it's available. Like I say, the Open Rights Group, we're trying to move away from this Microsoft issue and look further into the future for the BBC. The BBC has got itself into a really sticky situation with iPlayer and with DRM, and I think it must be feeling bad at this point. What the Open Rights Group are trying to say here is that yes, these problems are real, a lot of our supporter base are using Linux operating systems and even though they're paying their license fee, they're unable to access iPlayer services. But we'd like to find solutions for the BBC, rather than more problems. And our big solution is that it needs to start reexamining the rights models. For the sake of public broadcast.

Q: So this is, for you, really a fundamental question of how the BBC works with rights holders and how it arranges for content?

Becky Hogge: That's right. I think -- I read your interview with Mark Taylor from the Open Source Consortium, and he spoke about the BBC as 'Auntie'. The BBC is something which the British public are very proud of and very proud to support. And I think that's the basis from where everything that the Open Rights Group does. I mean, the BBC has supported in the past the spread of new technology around the UK. Arguably, the reason the UK has such a vibrant games market, games industry here in the UK is because many of the people now programming games were brought up using the BBC Micros systems they distributed back when I was growing up.

And what we want to find here is a solution for the BBC to continue innovating, both in content-making and in the way that it uses technology. And DRM is just a black hole that the BBC is going to get lost in.

If you listen to some of the Future Media and Technology team -- I'm referring again to this podcast that Ashley Highfield did for BBC Backstage -- he talks about a future technology where content can have "wrappers" which know where you're watching content, who's watching it, you know? In his sense, he wants content to behave intelligently using technology. But without buy-in from the entire value chain of video on the Internet, video online, that is just going to be another more complex and more invasive DRM system. We want the BBC to start stepping away from DRM and to look at some of the rights models that are going to allow it to release the content that the license fee payer funds for the license fee payer, without being crippled by DRM.

Q: All right, Becky, thank you very much for taking time with us this morning.

Becky Hogge: Sean, it's been a pleasure, thank you.

Q: Thank you.


Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group, on the BBC, iPlayer and DRM, interviewed by Sean Daly | 103 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 12:19 AM EST
if needed

--Bill P, not a lawyer. Question the answers, especially if I give some.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off Topic
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 12:21 AM EST
Please look at the red and the black stuff on the Post a Comment page---

--Bill P, not a lawyer. Question the answers, especially if I give some.

[ Reply to This | # ]

News Picks Commentary
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 12:22 AM EST
Please mention the News Pick item in the comment title.

--Bill P, not a lawyer. Question the answers, especially if I give some.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Cynicism on the BBC
Authored by: The Mad Hatter r on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 01:42 AM EST

Pardon my cynicism - but I have a feeling that a lot of money changed hands in
the Microsoft-BBC deal. A full accounting of the deal would be nice to see,
however I don't expect the BBC to come into the open on this.

Still, one can dream.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group, on the BBC, iPlayer and DRM, interviewed by Sean Daly
Authored by: grouch on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 02:43 AM EST
Excellent and informative interview.

The problems experienced by the BBC appear mostly to be caused by fears felt by the content owners. DRM and, in the U.S., the DMCA are not the answers to those fears. People reject these and the content owners who rely on them. This rejection comes as people discover that the locks are permanent and the content becomes temporary, which is exactly opposite to the way copyright is supposed to work.

Doctorow, PJ, Stallman and many, many others have been warning for a long time that DRM removes all fair use (or fair dealing) rights. The unbalance that Ms. Hogge describes so well extends the content owners' rights far beyond the law, in control and in time.

We all need to continue to educate people in how much control they surrender when they acquiesce to DRM. The music or video they thought they purchased can be rendered just unintelligible data at the whim of the DRM master at any time.

-- grouch

"People aren't as dumb as Microsoft needs them to be."
--PJ, May 2007

[ Reply to This | # ]

Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group, on the BBC, iPlayer and DRM, interviewed by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 03:13 AM EST
In my opinion, the BBC should only download things to my Personal Computer items
that the have the right to leave there, and that aren't encrypted.

Really. If I tried to use someone else's storage as a repository for my 'stuff',
which I could remove at any time and which I didn't let them have full access to
so they could check, there would be legitimate grounds for complaint.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They're doing good work
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 03:47 AM EST

The Open Rights Group is doing good work, and I hope that readers who live in the UK will support them in every way possible.

But, at the same time, this Digital Restrictions Management issue illustrates what we are up against. On one side, there is one of the richest monopolies that has ever existed, with a budget of (literally) billions of dollars for lobbyists, lawyers, and buying influence. They operate largely in the dark. We don't know how often a Microsoft employee takes a senior BBC manager to lunch, for example (though we can guess that the budget for doing that is pretty much unlimited).

On the other side, we have a handful of volunteers, operating on a shoestring, although they represent the long-term interests of the vast majority of people who use computers. They operate entirely in the open. Everybody can see what they are doing.

The same unequal contest plays out over many issues, not just Digital Restrictions: patents, standardization, pressure on hardware manufacturers, ...

Dear Reader, what have you done today to defend our freedoms against the relentless attack of the Microsoft monopoly? We can win, but only if we all contribute to the effort.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Conflicting approaches
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 04:27 AM EST
I have always found it odd that the BCC would go down this route with iPlayer
when they have been developing the Dirac project since about 2002 .

The Dirac project is an open source video codec and one of its advantages is
that due to the scalability in its processing it is ideally suited for any
internet based video application.

Using Dirac in the iPlayer would have been an ideal way of Dirac gaining a more
prominent standing in the video codec arena and avoiding this situation.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Ashley Highfield blog
Authored by: Electric Dragon on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 04:54 AM EST
Read his post on open standards here.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Support Open Rights Group
Authored by: seantellis on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 04:55 AM EST

If you want to support ORG, they have a shop at Spreadshirt were you can buy T-shirts and mugs. My ORG mug arrived yesterday, and very spiffy it is too.

Sean Ellis (

[ Reply to This | # ]

BBC World, BBC World Service
Authored by: JonoP on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 05:36 AM EST
While I agree with the general thrust of the interviewee's arguments, raising
BBC World and BBC World Service as 'free' services is a mistake. BBC World is
funded by the channel showing adverts and the World Service is funded by a grant
from the Foreign Office - neither of them involves giving away for free content
that is only funded by the license fee.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Support The Open Rights Group
Authored by: Glyn on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 05:36 AM EST
Follow this link if you want to join the Open Right Group and to help support the great work they are doing.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Conceptual ERROR.
Authored by: mtew on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 07:59 AM EST
Several remarks in the interview use the term 'consume' in reference to the
content being released. The whole idea that what they release is 'consumed' is
false. Their content is basically unchanged by the release. (This is an
important consequence of the content being digital; the small changes that take
place during release are, or can be, restored so there is no permanent loss of

The actual transaction is one of 'use', not one of 'consumption'. The content
remains after 'use' and can be reused. This would not be true if the content
was 'consumed'.

The use of the incorrect term has an impact on the way people think about the
'content'. Naturally there is more concern about 'consuming' a limited resource
than there is about 'using' a resource that will continue to exist. Socially,
it is necessary to control 'cunsumption' much more strongly than it is necessary
to control mere 'use'. Using 'consume' in place of 'use' allows the content
managers to insist on a larger fee than is actually warented.

Of coures there are resources consumed when someone uses the 'content', but
the 'content' itself is NOT one of the resources consumed.


[ Reply to This | # ]

Becky Hogge, Open Rights Group, on the BBC, iPlayer and DRM, interviewed by Sean Daly
Authored by: tompoe on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 09:20 AM EST
When a site chooses to limit who can participate in a particular feature, that
is their perogative. The BBC offers their viewers the opportunity to turn over
all their private data to Microsoft, when they require the iplayer. Is the BBC
being paid by Microsoft for their viewers data? Does the BBC share the results
obtained by Microsoft? What other government agencies participate? Lots of
questions for Becky Hogge. Hope she keeps up the good work.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 10:25 AM EST
One only needs to watch the BBC series YES MINISTER to understand what's going
on in Britain between the BBC, the British Civil Service, the Government and
Micro$$$$oft's Boys.

Just free lunches! hahaha

[ Reply to This | # ]

British Citizens
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 11:15 AM EST
Becky Hogge refers several times to British or UK Citizens as funding the BBC
through the TV licence, but this is conceptually wrong. It is UK residents
(citizens, immigrants, legal or illegal, etc.) who pay for the BBC this way,
and through taxes generally. I am a British citizen who hasn't lived in the UK
for over 50 years. My children are British citizens who have never set foot in
the UK. None of us has ever paid a penny towards the Beeb. UK residents would be
understandably miffed if my kids demanded free access to the BBC's offerings
based on their citizenship.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The fundamental problem
Authored by: PJP on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 01:48 PM EST
The fundamental problem here is not DRM (although that is a problem in its own
right), but the moving view of the government, and thus the BBC, about what the
role of the BBC really is.

Many years ago, the BBC World Service was seen by the government as a tool to be
used to generate a cohesive force for the Empire/Commonwealth and to spread
England's influence and culture across the world. To that end, they built the
largest world-wide network of radio broadcast and relay stations ever seen, and
employed the staff to broadcast in more languages than any other broadcaster in

Although the infrastructure and local languag components were paid for by the
government, a lot of content came from programs produced for local consumption
(essentially for free). A lot of the world service stuff also fed back into the
domestic service - in particular, the world wide spread of news gathering
resources and local production facilities created a news system the envy of the
world. Policy was to not attempt to filter of slant any of the news content.
This gave the BBC a world-wide reputation for integrity of their news service.
they would report the facts as they found them, even if that was to the
detriment of the people paying their salaries (the UK government).

This whole approach worked well, and for the cost, was extremely effective in
its basic aim of tying together the countries in the English sphere of
influence, spreading British culture and values around the world and improving
the content of the domestic ("Home") service of the BBC.

What happened and why isn't exactly clear, but at some point around the 1980's
someone looked at the BBC, saw its huge amount of content, both radio and TV,
and decided that the government could not only cut costs, but maybe even create

The World Service was slowly dismantled, replaced by selling the content to
local broadcasters. To ensure that these people had the market to themselves,
the WS system of broadcast stations and relay was dismantled. When someon in the
US wanted to receive WS programs, the traditional SW service was gone. Efforts
were made to ensure that transmissions intended for other areas were not very
usab;e in the US. If the US wanted BBC programing it was only available through
local broadcaster -- generally, these were public radio stations who only
broadcast WS programs from 11pm to 5am and maybe a 30 minute news transmission
during the day. Coverage was spotty and very incomplete.

When it came to TV, it was again a for profit organization.
Although originally intended to be world-wide, the distributor for the US market
decided that US viewers being dumber than the rest of the world would need a
very specific version - BBC America was born, with a mixture of programming from
the BBC and a other UK TV sources (did you know a lot of what you see on BBC
America is NOT BBC programming material?

Of course, as we all know, the only people who might be interested in this stuff
live on the East coast, so all programming is oriented towards that timezone.
BBC news has generally not been available at a sensible time outsize of the East
coast. Now, they have decided to not relay BBC WS News, but create an
Americanized version.

Of course, the true BBC World transmissions are not allowed to be viewable in
the US markets.

Slowly but surely, they have adopted a for profit view of their non-domestic
programming, and then encounter the problem of having agreed to exclusivity for
a particular distributor in a particular market, they have to find ways of
locking the content from other areas out of that market.

The problem is that their view of the world is 30 years out of date - same as
most of the other media companies - they still think there are multiple
"markets" and that they can sell the same content multiple times into
those markets. The truth is that today the old approach of the BBC WS of just
serving the world - one "market", is now a reality.

Communications have reached the stage where there are no natural media markets -
the only way to create them is to try to erect artificial barriers to replace
those destroyed by modern communications.

The entire business model of media is now broken and they are fighting a losing
battle to try to maintain it.

The right answer is to adopt a new business model. The first company to do so
will wipe the floor with the others.

The new model is that you sell content once - but for a much higher price, and
only to a distributor who can guarantee worldwide distribution - can't guarantee
that? can't play in the new world order.

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Time to remember analog
Authored by: Anonymous on Friday, November 09 2007 @ 02:56 PM EST
If digital rights
Give you frights,
Lift the fog
With analog.

Vinyl was never copy protected.

Time to think about a different way to distribute, via the Net, no less. How
would you find a way to distribute analog recording with current connections?
What would follow packet headers?

Obviously something to appeal only to hobbyists--just like kit computers. Then
again, that seems to have gotten out of hand, doesn't it?

We are sometimes too bemused by difference functions to appreciate differential


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