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BBC protests - London and Manchester - August 14th

Defective by Design | 28.07.2007 01:30 | Culture | Technology | London

Today the BBC made it official -- they have been corrupted by Microsoft.

With today's launch of the iPlayer, the BBC Trust has failed in its most basic of duties and handed over to Microsoft sole control of the on-line distribution of BBC programming. From today, you will need to own a Microsoft operating system to view BBC programming on the web.

oday the BBC made it official -- they have been corrupted by Microsoft. With today's launch of the iPlayer, the BBC Trust has failed in its most basic of duties and handed over to Microsoft sole control of the on-line distribution of BBC programming. From today, you will need to own a Microsoft operating system to view BBC programming on the web. This is akin to saying you must own a Sony TV set to watch BBC TV. And you must accept the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) that the iPlayer imposes. You simply cannot be allowed to be in control of your computer according to the BBC.

We can certainly blame the executives who have misled the Trustees into making this decision, but that really is no excuse for such poor governance. Let's remind ourselves of what guidance the BBC Trust is supposed to follow from the BBC Charter:

4. The Public Purposes

The Public Purposes of the BBC are as follows—

* a. sustaining citizenship and civil society;
* b. promoting education and learning;
* c. stimulating creativity and cultural excellence;
* d. representing the UK, its nations, regions and communities;
* e. bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK;
* f. in promoting its other purposes, helping to deliver to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services and, in addition, taking a leading role in the switchover to digital television.

But with this decision all these high principles are thrown away. No chance then for the millions of the worlds poorest children who are about to receive the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computer to be able to view BBC educational programming. The OLPC runs only Free Software and
Free Software is, of course, the main competitive threat to Microsoft. I don't expect we will see an iPlayer built to the principles of free software whilst this incompetent BBC governance is maintained. The Chair of the BBC Trust is Sir Michael Lyons and we need to call on him to account for this terrible decision.

How did this happen?

As with any form of corruption, follow the money, power, and influence.

Let's start from the top. Queen Elizabeth was directed to bestow Bill Gates with an honorary knighthood in 2002, for "services to global enterprise". This knighthood came after Microsoft had been convicted of monopolistic practices in the US. And just before the European Commission investigated Microsoft's bundling of Windows Media Player into Windows ending with €497 million ($666 million) for its breaches of EU competition law.

Bill was nominated for this honor by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who, on June 27, 2007, became the the new Prime Minister of Britain. You may not know this, but Gordon is tight with Bill, and the Labour Party is tight with Microsoft. And after 10 years of one party rule, the UK is a politically tied up Microsoft shop. Everything else that follows in relation to the iPlayer can be connected to this corrupting political association. No one in the ruling Labour party is really going to question the corruption of the BBC. I predict the outcome of the petition to Gordon Brown that has over 12,000 signatures and calls for the iPLayer to be available to all operating systems, will be the wooly, "The BBC is committed blah blah". Meantime Microsoft has been given a monopoly for distribution of BBC programming.

Let's look closely at the executives who are behind this decision and who gave guidance to the BBC Trust on this matter.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson, is a big personal fan of Bill Gates, and it's his Media and Technology team that have led the way for the Microsoft takeover. Let's take a closer look at these characters.

The BBC has a Director of New Media and Technology -- a position that really requires some degree of independence from Microsoft you would think. Unfortunately, this position is held by Ashley Highfield, who was caught on stage with Bill Gates at the Mix06 conference in Las Vegas on March 20, 2006, doing a direct sales pitches for Microsoft. Showing us
that the fix was in early, Ashley says to Bill, “Wherever possible we want to give our audience a chance to view our programmes for at least a week for free. We want a kind of sophisticated DRM that would allow that, then move into potentially a pay model. That kind of sophisticated DRM will improve the partnership with yourselves, for instance,”

That's it then, by pre-determining the model fits Microsoft's wishes, they can ensure the partnership with Microsoft, excluding free software.

Unfortunately, it gets worse.

Reporting to Ashley Higfield is Erik Huggers, Group Controller at BBC Future Media & Technology. Erik was previously Senior Director at Microsoft Corporation and before that a Director of Business Development at Microsoft Corporation.

There is simply no chance of breaking this Microsoft stranglehold with these people in control, and no accountability whilst the Labour hierarchy is wedded to Microsoft corp.

All this makes me particularly angry, because I used to work for BBC Network Radio, and was always proud of what the BBC stood for.

So I'm packing my bags and heading back to the UK for this one. On Tuesday August 14 DefectiveByDesign will be heading to BBC Television Studios in London to protest the corruption of the BBC. Except I won't be protesting the BBC, I will be protesting the incompetent management that has allowed this to happen.

I will ask my old BBC colleagues to join us for the protest, and see if we can shake things up a little. Sign-up below to help us plan, and ask anyone you know in the UK to join the protest.

Defective by Design
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Hide the following 10 comments

BBC and corporatism

28.07.2007 08:13

It seems that Auntie Beeb is dead, or at least lost her way and been suckered into corporate promotion.

I recall as a child watching Blue Peter and seeing that the brand names of the ubiquitous washing up bottles were always covered. No such independence any more I'm afraid - the BBC ethos (or maybe just its editors) no longer recognise any difference between say, promoting road safey and promoting a product.

For example you would think that all the OB reporters covering the floods were sponsored by a certain outdoor wear manufacturer, given how prominently the brand name appears on their jackets. There was a time when they would have been expeected to cover these up.

If the BBC is no longer independent of the influence of the corportations, how independent can it be of other outside influences?


Scrap the licence fee

30.07.2007 19:23

Why should I pay for the BBC? I don't want it. I don't need the state to fund a broadcaster to make its own dodgy version of the news and brain-numbing soap operas. Cut the BBC loose to survive on the subscriptions of willing customers only. Keep Salford BBC free.


sexist image of woman

31.07.2007 00:49

I find the image used of a woman with her hands tied behind her back, to be sexist. It's disappointing to see activists resort to using a sexualised body of a woman, and in this case with reference to bondage, to further your message.

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why not research?

31.07.2007 17:25

It will be compatible with other systems soon.


I don't have a microsoft operating system and it works fine

09.08.2007 13:24

I am using a rather pricey mac at the moment, with firefox and the real-player plug-in. This consolidation of file formats is an increasing problem in online media. My biggest concern is that the DVD the Climate Camp are handing out is subject to DRM - the film cannot be edited without paying an additional 50 quid to Quicktime!
My only concern is this article is clearly exaggerating because I don't have a microsoft operating system and it works fine. Apple Mac are increasingly collaborating with Microsoft with dual boot and Microsoft Office package (the trial is shipped free with new machines), whilst benefiting from the best code and architecture from the open source community.

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10.08.2007 10:01

Yeah I don't agree with the picture of the woman

Why isn't she in the kitchen, where she belongs?

Sexist picture?

Not all that bad

14.08.2007 22:30

Actually the tile is a bit of a 'Pun' - how long do you think it will take to find a way? I mean come on - it is after all 'Microsoft'. They couldn't protect any thing if they even tried....

Sure they just opened the door on another challenge is all. I mean look at your article. Free for the first week and then pay? So cool video grab it in the first week, upload to non dmca vid sharing sites (I.E. Vid Sites other than youtube or Google ;) ) - end of story and that took all of 30seconds to figure out.

DRM is not that hard to over come so apart from the idea and the collusion behind this, it's not that much of a problem. The more they try to monopolise software the more we will do our best to ensure it's freedom. What really stinks is how they are allowed to monopolise software in the way they are allowed to considering they 'Stole' the basis of windows in the first place and the rest was given to them by Rank Xerox.


You cause a fuss for the sake of it...

15.08.2007 14:02

1) I think you'll find the iPlayer is currently a BETA version, and also on the operating system that 90% of the worlds computers use. So from the BBC's point of view, it makes sense to do it like that so it can be used by the public immediately. (btw, its not available for Mac OS either yet, so that further enforces my point)
That means that the poor little children in the poor countries with their free laptops that dont run Windows wont be able to use it, for the time being. Anyway, you need to be a BBC license fee payer in order to use it and I think the poor little children have got more important things to worry about than paying the BBC's fee.

2) As for DRM, the BBC don't wholly own the copyright for all the shows they have, so without the DRM many of the third parties would not have allowed their content to go online, so without that, no iPlayer at all. What difference does it make anyway?
Do you want to keep last weeks episodes of Eastenders on your hard drive for the next 10 years? I dont think so.

3)"BBC Director General Mark Thompson, is a big personal fan of Bill Gates, " How exactly?
does have posters of Bill on his wall? Is he the admin of the Bill Gates Fan Club?
That is a stupid and pointless statement, as frankly is the rest of your article

4)"So I'm packing my bags and heading back to the UK for this one....I will be protesting the incompetent management that has allowed this to happen. "
Well, I hope your not flying, thats bad for the environment

5) Yes, everyone is against you and plotting in some way to take over the world.

Why dont you channel your energy into something worthwhile instead of getting on your soapbox about a totally pointless and meaningless issue?


scrapping the licence fee is no solution

16.08.2007 15:41

The BBC isn't perfect by any stretch and the corporation has been weakened by each government since Thatcher bought in the 1990 Broadcasting Act after the Death On The Rock and The Zircon Affair angered her government because they dared question government policy.

If the licence fee goes, Murdoch above all else will be happy. He's already got his fingers in C5 and with other terrestial broadcasters becoming reliant on money and advertising, he can bring everything to its knees so we have increasing amounts of cheap, banal programming primarily from the US where he owns complete media synergy with newspapers, radio networks, book publishers, cinema studios, internet providers..... the Beeb's not great but it's better than that.


Well you pay the

22.08.2007 21:32

licence fee if you want. The rest of us consider it a state tax on TV viewing. That tax is used to numb your brain. Eastenders, the lottery show, cops/robbers/doctors/nurses, and how to make your house and garden pretty - pay for that trash if you want to, but why should everybody?



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