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The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament, by Sean Daly
Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 06:34 PM EST

The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament
~by Sean Daly

The British Broadcasting Corporation officially launched its ambitious iPlayer client, a video-on-demand "catch-up" service limited to UK residents, on Christmas Day with a massive promotional push which resulted in a million viewers watching over 3.5 million viewed programs. Launch TV advertising notwithstanding, this is unquestionably a sign that the era of "time-shifted on-demand" video over the Internet has arrived.

Amid the celebrations however, Mark Thompson, Director-General of the BBC, faced stiff questioning last week before the UK Parliament House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee which wanted to know more about the Beeb's efforts to cut spending and in particular the costs of the massive iPlayer project. The hearing followed the publication of a National Audit Office report [PDF] on BBC Procurement.

Information about the meeting can be found here. There is a video of the 92-minute hearing available for viewing for a limited time, but unfortunately, it is in Microsoft Windows Media format and is not seekable, meaning it is not possible to fast-forward or rewind. The UK parliament website suggests that everyone use Windows, which is ironic since it is precisely this kind of proprietary-standard approach which has dogged the iPlayer project these past three years and drawn the ire of the UK's Open Rights Group and the Open Source Consortium.

We have written to Parliament's audiovisual department seeking permission to present the film here in Ogg Theora format, but there is a complex and expensive licensing scheme to deal with which is clearly meant for broadcasters. We hope to have the video or audio in an open format at a later date.

The HoC Public Accounts Committee has just published a transcript of the hearing and it is fascinating reading for those unable to view the video. It is important to note however that although official, this is the "uncorrected" transcript, meaning that neither the BBC witnesses nor the MP committee members have had the opportunity to correct the record; the transcript in this form is not yet the approved formal record of the proceedings which may take weeks to prepare.

I'd like to draw your attention to a series of questions asked by Member of Parliament Dr. John Pugh. Dr. Pugh is clearly aware of the iPlayer's shortcomings and asks about the project's total cost. You may remember we asked this same question during our interview last November with Ashley Highfield, the BBC's Future Media and Technology Director, who told us then that the iPlayer client development cost was 4.5 million. At this hearing, Ms. Zarin Patel, BBC Group Finance Director, testifies that she does not have the precise figures to hand but estimates the cost at 20 million. Mark Thompson adds that this figure includes salaries and not only procurement items. As the BBC witnesses are unable to respond to the question in detail, Dr. Pugh asks that correct figures be forwarded to the Committee. And later, as I'll show you, the figure was corrected downward. Please note that Zarin does make it clear at the HoC meeting that she didn't have the exact figures to hand.

He is also worried that the BBC's initial Microsoft-only policy constitutes illegal state aid, a situation which could subject the UK Government to an investigation and sanctions from the EU. He was concerned enough to write to the BBC's Director-General the day after the hearing. We have obtained the letter [PDF] which we present as text below, along with the portion of the HoC PAC questions relative to iPlayer.

We asked the BBC for clarification concerning the cost discrepancy. In a statement, the BBC said:

The figures for the total estimated spend on the BBC's on-demand proposals are as follows:
  • 131 million was the forecast for the total cost to the BBC for its on-demand proposal over a five year period (start 2006/07). This includes rights costs and other operational and technical costs.
  • The 4.5 million discussed in November was the total spend at the time for the development of BBC iPlayer.
  • However, this figure now stands at 5.7 million. The increase is due to current year spend now being included in the figure.

The "viewer-facing" iPlayer is, in fact, the visible part of a major internal project to transition from tape-based video archives to digital. Some information about this huge project can be found here and here. Mr. Highfield referred to this project in our interview and you will see that Mr. Thompson does, as well, in his testimony below.

The initial Windows-only architecture of the iPlayer, and the only version to actually offer download "catch-up" viewing today, runs exclusively under Windows XP and Vista (previous versions are not supported) with Microsoft DRM and Verisign Kontiki centrally controlled P2P which requires [EULA] iPlayer users to donate their bandwidth. The BBC says that DRM is necessary to protect content rightsholders, in particular "indie" production companies.

What content companies invariably seem to underestimate is the fear and loathing most people feel toward DRM and their willingness to avoid it whenever possible; the record companies took years to figure this out. The streaming iPlayer version, built around Adobe Flash, has according to the BBC been preferred by users by a factor of 8 to 1. Could it be users don't want to install software they can't turn off which monopolizes their bandwidth and phones home to Microsoft?

Why hasn't the BBC built upon its own GPL'd, patent-unencumbered, scalable audiovisual codec, Dirac, a codec which has come far since its beginnings in 2004? Mr. Highfield has just indicated that the iTunes platform could be acceptable to rightsholders with the new "time-bomb" extension of Apple's FairPlay DRM.

Erik Huggers, the former Microsoft executive referred to in the testimony (and who has said "my loyalties are to the BBC and the BBC alone"), has just hired Dirk-Willem van Gulik, former President of the Apache Software Foundation, which is good news for him but unlikely to be welcomed by any of the BBC's 1800 "compulsory redundancies" worried about their jobs.

Has the time has come to ditch the Windows/Kontiki iPlayer client, and the millions of pounds of development and Microsoft and Verisign software licenses that went into it, or at the very least communicate more openly the costs associated with a project in which Microsoft has pride of place to the detriment of license fee payers having chosen other systems? Curiously, I could find no report of the committee meeting on any of the BBC websites, with the single exception of this blog post which appeared following our questions.

Here's the transcript, followed by the Dr. Pugh letter:

**************************************

Q14 [12:17]

Dr Pugh: As I understand this Report, you have met your 75 million target for this year but your annual expenditure is actually up and the explanation of that is because of one-off expenditure of one kind or another such as development and some expenditure on property and workplace. Is that correct?

Mr Peat: The savings that are set out here are those audited by the NAO.

Q15 [12:43]

Dr Pugh: The savings are real but there are additional items which you would not buy every year, as it were.

Mr Peat: Correct.

Q16 [12:49]

Dr Pugh: And clearly one of those you have just mentioned is the iPlayer. How much has that cost to develop, bearing in mind that not all the costs may be in one year?

Mr Peat: I would prefer that Zarin gave that information.

Q17 [13:00]

Dr Pugh: How much has it cost to develop the iPlayer?

Ms Patel: I do not have the figures to hand. I believe that it was somewhere in the region of 20 million all told over the last two or three years but I do not have that exact information to hand.

Q18 [13:13]

Dr Pugh: Could you send us the figure?

Ms Patel: Yes, of course.

Q19 [13:15]

Dr Pugh: How long has it taken to develop in all?

Mr Thompson: You will understand of course that only the sub-set of that cost comes under the category of procurement. For example, staff costs of BBC staff would not be included in the category of procurement.

Q20 [13:31]

Dr Pugh: So the iPlayer costs may actually be considerably more than that and some of it will be procurement?

Mr Thompson: I think the figure quoted is the total cost of which only a proportion will be procurement.

Q21 [13:41]

Dr Pugh: What was the cost of making the iPlayer partially interoperable, because that was an additional cost incurred during this year was it not? Initially it was only working on Windows XP via Internet Explorer. I believe, I have not tried, I can now get it to work on my Mac; for some things anyway. I can stream but I cannot download.

Mr Thompson: It should be working on your Mac. If it is not, I will pop round and have a look.

Q22 [14:10]

Dr Pugh: Interestingly enough, I did try on the House of Commons Windows computer and it crashed. But that is possibly a separate issue.

Mr Thompson: It may be a problem at your end. Who knows? The plan with the iPlayer was always to make it as widely available across different platforms as we could and the main consumer launch of the iPlayer, which happened on Christmas Day, when we actually launched it to the public fully ---

Q23 [14:37]

Dr Pugh: So it was planned expenditure; nothing to do with the protests which were voiced at the time.

Mr Thompson: No. To be honest people feared that the BBC might be planning a cosy and exclusive relationship with Microsoft. It was always planned; it was a requirement of the BBC Trust but, to be honest, it was always the management's plan that this product would be available for people using different systems.

Q24 [14:57]

Dr Pugh: It had nothing to do with the fact that your group controller of future media technology actually came from Microsoft and was hired from Microsoft.

Mr Peat: It was a condition of approval by the BBC Trust that the full availability through different systems should be accelerated.

Mr Thompson: What was true was that some of the initial consumer tests were available only for use in the Microsoft Windows and Media Player environment, but that was at the testing stage. It is absolutely core to the BBC that we make our services as universally available as possible and that, in the context of the web, absolutely includes the availability of services on different platforms.

Q25 [15:40]

Dr Pugh: So at what stage will we be able to fully download and screen to a Mac or a Linux computer?

Mr Thompson: You can do that now.

Q26 [15:48]

Dr Pugh: Both of them?

Mr Thompson: Yes.

Q27 [15:51]

Dr Pugh: Why, in a sense, did you develop your own piece of kit? There are actually things you could have procured. BT Vision is one product, BitTorrent is another which are both developed and fully interoperable as far as I understand. Why go to all the trouble of procuring your own system which in a sense you could have bought off the peg?

Mr Thompson: The iPlayer, the application of the iPlayer, the client application and the way programming media files are both encoded and transported from server to client, is not a bespoke BBC creation.

Q28 [16:44]

Dr Pugh: Some applications elsewhere are actually better, are they not?

Mr Thompson: It is an assembly of existing pieces of technology. We package some different pieces of technology, but it is not as though we have gone out and invented our own peer-to-peer or digital rights management systems; these have been packaged up. A significant part of the cost of the iPlayer is to do something rather different which is that the nature of this application and, if you like, the promise of the application is that people will be able to catch up on ---

Q29 [17:13]

Dr Pugh: I know that.

Mr Thompson: There is a substantive point coming. Re-engineering the BBC itself, such that automatically we can get hundreds and hundreds of hours of television and indeed alongside our existing radio on-demand services, encoded, available to be downloaded with all their rights cleared and all the rest of it, has meant getting dozens of different existing systems to talk to each other. So a significant part of the development challenge and of the cost of iPlayer has been around organising an end-to-end digital delivery of the content to iPlayer. Nobody anywhere in the world has tried to offer so much content so quickly in real time to the public. What is unusual about the iPlayer is not the functionality of being able to download programmes; it is about the sheer quantity and the fact that it refreshes every day. It has been the back office side of the content delivery which has been a large part of both the technological challenge and also a significant part of the cost.

Q30 [18:24]

Dr Pugh: But can you not understand the view that you spent clearly much more than 20 million on developing this piece of apparatus and its application which when it downloads the marvellous content of the BBC cannot even tell me how much I have downloaded in terms of megabytes and so on, can it?

Mr Thompson: We have decided to keep the user interface.

Q31 [18:48]

Dr Pugh: BitTorrent can tell me how much I have downloaded: the BBC cannot tell me.

Mr Thompson: We have chosen to offer a user interface which is very simple, very clear and which, if I may put it the other way, is not going to put off people because it offers vast amounts of complex information about megabytage and screening rates and all the rest of it. If you go on to the iPlayer right now, in two or three clicks you can be watching Sense and Sensibility. What we are seeing is that about a million people have already tried iPlayer. It has only been launched since Christmas Day and the stream is full.

Q32 [19:26]

Dr Pugh: In two or three clicks I could be exceeding the limit on my broadband connection and I would not know. In a sense you have developed an application which is of limited use to the consumer and spent an appreciable amount of money on it.

Mr Thompson: I am not going to suggest that we are not going to continue to develop the iPlayer and to listen to our audiences about ways in which we can improve it. Clearly it will not be difficult for us, if it is not already there, to include in the interface information about the use of bandwidth and streaming rates and so forth for those who want it. In the first week the iPlayer's day-to-day growth was around 20% per day. To be honest, all of the evidence we have had and the feedback we have had is that consumers are enormously enjoying using the iPlayer; around one million people in this country have tried it already and we are a fortnight into its launch. It is growing very strongly. It is very simple and easy to use and, I have to say, so far it has got off to a very good start.

Q33 [20:30]

Dr Pugh: Moving on to that heading of People and Resources, it also includes recruitment agencies. Presumably with a large number of people currently being laid off by the BBC, your expenditure on recruitment agencies is scheduled to dive, is it not, because you are not doing much recruiting, in fact quite the reverse at the moment?

Mr Thompson: The total number of people working for the BBC is reducing. The total pay bill of the BBC, staff, freelance, casual, temporary, is also reducing and will continue to reduce. However, clearly and iPlayer will be an example, some of the big other technology projects we have, some of the other major one-off projects we have sometimes require specialist skills and specialist resource which we need on a temporary basis and that will continue.

Q34 [21:27]

Dr Pugh: Are you telling us it may not fall because you may need expensive headhunters to find the right people to develop applications like iPlayer?

Mr Thompson: As I tried to explain to you about iPlayer, iPlayer is a bringing together of many existing applications which are being developed by third parties and where the BBC pays a modest licence: the Kontiki DRM peer-to-peer technology, the Adobe Flash video streaming technology and so forth. I do not accept the premise that the BBC, as it were, has been creating entirely new applications on its own. What we have been doing is bringing technologies together to produce what we do think is needed.

Q35 [22:13]

Dr Pugh: With all due respect, you are answering the previous question. Recruitment agency funding is not likely to fall then despite the position the BBC is in?

Ms Patel: In 2007-08 we are now back down to our normal levels with 35 million spend projected for this year, which is in line with an historical level. So the hump of spend we saw, the kind of spike of spend that we saw both on our change projects, on iPlayer and other technology projects, has now come back down to normal level.

**************************************
**************************************

January 10, 2008

Dear Mark,

Following our discussion at the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, I thought it might be useful to underline the main point I wished to make.

It can be argued that iPlayer has not been the best piece of procurement done by the BBC that it lacks such obvious features as indicators of download file size -- useful to the consumer on limited broadband -- or true high quality encoding differentiating it from other currently available, off the peg applications.

I do recognise that that it has an attractive interface, is user friendly and addresses digital rights issues so I stop short of suggesting the BBC has bought a lemon.

The more fundamental issue is its failure to apply open standards and be sufficiently interoperable to work fully (streaming and download) on more than one platform. The BBC is funded by licence players not all of whom have or chose to use a computer running Windows XP or Vista. By guaranteeing full functionality to the products of one software vendor it is as a public body handing a commercial advantage to that company -- effectively illegal state aid!

The aspiration to eventually (you said within two years) remove this advantage does not rebut this charge. A promise of amendment is never sufficient excuse for past sins or indeed much of an explanation.

Most major web based developments of any scale these days work on the presumption that interoperablity, open standards and platform neutrality are givens. It is not clear why the BBC design brief did not specify these requirements or if it did what technical problems -- given the expertise available -- hinder them being implemented.

So long as the iPlayer is bundled in with Windows/Internet Explorer it continues to run the risk of breaching state aid rules -- as the benefits it thereby bestows on Microsoft (with their somewhat blemished reputation for fair competition) come via the deployment of the public's licence money. What might be a pragmatic choice for a privately funded company becomes deeply problematic for a public corporation.

I recognise and welcome the assurances that the BBC and you personally have given on this subject but wonder whether the sheer novelty of the new media has blinded many to the clear commercial inequity in the delivery of it.

Yours Sincerely,

John Pugh


  


The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament, by Sean Daly | 160 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
Corrections thread
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 06:37 PM EST
Please note any corrections here.

Place the correction in the comment title for best results.

---
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.
  ―IETF RFC 1925

[ Reply to This | # ]

[NP] Discuss Groklaw News Picks
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 06:40 PM EST
Discuss Groklaw News Picks here. The News Picks are found on the right hand column of the home page.

Please reference the title of the News Pick you are commenting on in your comment. It helps us to understand what you are talking about.

---
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.
  ―IETF RFC 1925

[ Reply to This | # ]

[OT] Off Topic discussion
Authored by: Aladdin Sane on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 06:43 PM EST
Discuss everything else here. Anything not related to the story, that is.

Warning: The Post Mode defaults to Plain Old Text. Select HTML Formatted Post Mode, if you write in that language.

---
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine.
  ―IETF RFC 1925

[ Reply to This | # ]

Some interesting notes from the iplayer site
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 07:54 PM EST
Can I download programmes onto my computer?

f you have a Windows XP or Vista machine that meets the minimum specification as stated.....

Unfortunately, this technology does not work on Windows Media Centre PCs, or 64-bit Windows XP, although it does work on 64-bit Windows Vista. Linux and Macintosh cannot use BBC iPlayer Download Manager for the same reason, although we are working on versions that are compatible. However, Linux, Mac users can still stream programmes as long as you can get the latest version of Flash.

I see also an international version is in the works.

I hope that it's not outside of the posting policy here but a while back when AOL introduced In2TV, and was still using Windows Media (they are not now), and it supposedly required WinXP and WMP10, I got that working on Win98. Here is a link (not clicky)

http://www.msfn.org/board/In2TV-Win98-t82947.html

I'm thinking similar techniques could get the iplayer to work in Win 98, ME, or 2000.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Mr Thompson did his best to not answer
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 08:25 PM EST
It sure seems like Mr Thompson avoided directly answering any of the questions
put to him by Dr Pugh.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Q35 Mr Thompson
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 08:43 PM EST
I am currently trying to convert the file so I can seek,
but I am sure his initial response was "substantial
license fees", then he paused and corrected himself
to "modest". This got me thinking that it would be good to
see the license fees brocken out so who was paid what for
what can be scrutinised. As an aside this was some serious
questioning - having to justify what you did and why you
are considered to have contributed something of value in
the public forum, perhaps its just me.

[ Reply to This | # ]

  • Q35 Mr Thompson - Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 09:18 PM EST
fair dealing?
Authored by: grouch on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 11:00 PM EST
Are fair dealing / fair use rights codified in the UK or EU? If so, aren't all "digital rights management" schemes no more than conspiracies to deprive consumers of those rights? I don't know of any DRM scheme which includes measures to protect fair use rights. Isn't conspiring to deprive people of their lawful rights a criminal offense?

---
-- grouch

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

[ Reply to This | # ]

Schadenfreud?
Authored by: Anonymous on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 11:26 PM EST
Dr Pugh: And clearly one of those you have just mentioned is the iPlayer. How much has that cost to develop, bearing in mind that not all the costs may be in one year?
Mr Peat: I would prefer that Zarin gave that information.
Dr Pugh: How much has it cost to develop the iPlayer?
Ms Patel: I do not have the figures to hand. I believe that it was somewhere in the region of ....

[ Reply to This | # ]

Linux used by BBC for Automated Production
Authored by: stuart_hc on Sunday, January 20 2008 @ 11:55 PM EST
Linux and open source software have been used recently for digital capturing of
video before the post-production stage and is a necessary step in moving away
from tape-based systems and eventual delivery on a network. A white paper has
been published on this work here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/rd/pubs/whp/whp155.shtml

The BBC is presenting a talk on the Ingex tapeless production system at
linux.conf.au on Jan 28th 2008. See
http://www.annodex.org/events/lca2008_mmm/pmwiki.php/Main/Schedule#stuart

[ Reply to This | # ]

8x as many use Flash-based streaming iPlayer than the desktop P2P version.
Authored by: SilverWave on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 01:48 AM EST

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/15/iplayer_streaming_ratio/ P2P outnumbered 8 to 1

"The BBC has revealed that eight times as many people are using its Flash-based streaming iPlayer than the desktop P2P version.

The first publicly available official figures since the Christmas launch say 3.5 million iPlayer programmes were watched by more than one million viewers between 25 December and 7 January. ...

It's a reasonable assumption that the vast majority of iPlayer viewers wouldn't have bothered if streaming hadn't been available. We won't bore you again with why."

---
You don't need to use an Anti-Virus with Linux as thats mainly a windows thing :)
But you can if you want to, its your choice.

[ Reply to This | # ]

To watch the 92 minute meeting of the Hearing with Linux
Authored by: dodger on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 03:03 AM EST
I found this to work on linux (suse 10.3, kde)
type the following in 1 line:

kmplayer "http://85.133.58.16/
UKParliament/Archive/0000001353.wmv"

[ Reply to This | # ]

The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 03:42 AM EST
[ So long as the iPlayer is bundled in with Windows/Internet Explorer it
continues to run the risk of breaching state aid rules -- as the benefits it
thereby bestows on Microsoft (with their somewhat blemished reputation for fair
competition) come via the deployment of the public's licence money. What might
be a pragmatic choice for a privately funded company becomes deeply problematic
for a public corporation.]

I couldn't put it better myself. This is systematic of the UK public sector as a
whole - using UK tax payers money to prop up an illegal, immoral foreign
monopoly power.

Tragically, it will never change, because senior (and not so senior) civil
servants are too weak and feeble to resist the will of the marketing and sales
onslaught...

Well said, John Pugh - I hope you are able to keep up this pressure in all areas
of software procurement until we get a fair return for our taxes - that promotes
real innovation within our industry.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Ian Al on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 04:32 AM EST
Thank you again, Sean, for your excellent article. However, the redoubtable Dr.
Pugh has finally got you out-interviewed. I'd vote for him, but I would not want
to meet him!


---
Regards
Ian Al

When nothing else makes sense, use Linux.

[ Reply to This | # ]

The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 05:09 AM EST
He is also worried that the BBC's initial Microsoft-only policy constitutes illegal state aid, a situation which could subject the UK Government to an investigation and sanctions from the EU.
Is there a way that members of the public can formally raise this complaint with the EU?

[ Reply to This | # ]

Regarding Patents and Open Source - BBC does not need to worry over DRM patents in the UK.
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 05:40 AM EST
If the BBC already has bought the perpetual use of the Microsoft product. Then
it has licensed the use of methods and concepts of this. And, so could on the
same machines, use an open source version where the methods and concepts are the
same. Meaning, that patented methods and concepts are not tied directly to a
specific piece of copyrighted code.

Of course, the UK Court of Appeal has already ruled against Software Patents in
the UK, so the BBC does not have to worry about the DRM related patents that
Microsoft has anyway.

[ Reply to This | # ]

What's with the DRM and so forth?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 10:28 AM EST
If they can't put stuff on because the other people involved in the creation
don't want it un-drm'd, why must it be available on the iPlayer application or
streaming site? It's not as if we have to have ALL that stuff.

And, since the BBC have said that the reason is OTHER PEOPLE, why are the BBC
paying for it? Surely the other parties are the ones requiring it. And sure they
will if they don't have to pay to have it controlled... How hot for DRM will
they be when the BBC sends them the 5.2Million bill?

[ Reply to This | # ]

If iPlayer Flash Based - Then Doesn't Need Microsoft At All - Will Play H.264 & On2VP6
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 11:20 AM EST
If the BBC's player is Flash based then Microsoft or EI is not needed at all.
Flash
will run on any browser and now can play H.254 via open source codec x264.
Flash now also plays ON2VP6 (the older version of On2 is basis for Theora).
There are also open source Flash players.

[ Reply to This | # ]

They really messed this up didn't they?
Authored by: jeevesbond on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 12:12 PM EST
The BBC really messed this up. What really mystifies me is the confusion over
downloading: why the obsession with allowing people to download files? They
could have slapped together the streaming service really easily and everyone
would have been--reasonably--happy. Ever heard *anyone* say: 'I don't use
YouTube because it doesn't let me download files.'

This just reeks of a badly planned and managed project, with a sprinkling of
Microsoft influence. This interview shows the chaps running it have no idea
what's going on in their own project.

How about, instead of getting rid of all those staff, they get rid of the
useless managers who're making all these mistakes. Then drop that downloading
service and just leave the streaming one.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Off the peg product? So why the eternal Beta?
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 12:21 PM EST
One of my main gripes with the iPlayer fiasco has been its reliance on Kontiki,
yet the service has been in eternal Beta.

When challenged by Dr Pugh regarding the amount of money wasted by the BBC on
developing a crippled service, Mark Thompson's reply is that the BBC has not
wasted money developing its own solution, as it *did* buy off the peg.

AOL, Sky, Channel4 et al have all been using Kontiki for years - so why the need
for a beta test that spanned *years*? If anything, Kontiki should have been a
stopgap product launched quickly into the market, allowing BBC resource to be
focussed on a proper solution that supported all of its license payers (within
reason).

[ Reply to This | # ]

I Would Love To See BBC's iPlayer Expenditures Spreadsheet Details
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 02:27 PM EST
The dollars that BBC is talking about when it comes to the iPlayer et al. has to
be
the biggest tax give away by the poor and the middle income Brits to the rich
elite - ever.

I would bet the middle men and women (the go-betweens) are just raking it in
by the truckloads; and I wonder how much of that money filters back to the
"right" people in envelopes left on restaurant tables?

[ Reply to This | # ]

The BBC's iPlayer Goes to Parliament, by Sean Daly
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 06:30 PM EST
This makes me really happy. I have to pay 136.50 per year for the pleasure of
having a TV in the UK (there's a 1000 fine if I don't). That money directly
funds the BBC and they manage to produce a video-on-demand system that forces me
to use Microsoft products and doesn't run on Linux.

I hope the National Audit Office (normally a toothless dragon) tear them to
shreds for the waste of money and the proprietary nature of the resulting
product.

They could have used open source stuff and produced a universal solution.

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If I was British...
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, January 21 2008 @ 08:03 PM EST
If I was from the UK I would be absolutely steaming mad about his response to
the recruiting money. They are laying off over 1000 people and the BBC STILL
plans to spend 20 million pounds or around 40 million dollars on recruiting per
YEAR? That level of spending on recruiting while laying off thousands is
OUTRAGEOUS. That level of spending on recruiting just by itself is unacceptable,
add in the financial crisis and the layoffs and it's unconscionable. Does the
BBC use a recruiter for every single hire? Does anyone in the UK care that their
license funds are being wasted on recruiters?

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