BBC’s internet TV service tunes out Apple

27 Jun 2007

The new web service iPlayer to be launched on 27 July by the BBC will allow web surfers to watch the company’s TV shows up to 30 days after broadcast but those accessing the web from an Apple Mac cannot avail of this service.

Using Windows technology, the iPlayer will only be available to those running Windows operating systems and thus forces consumers to use Microsoft products, according to the Open Source Consortium (OSC).

The OSC has written a letter to OfCom, the independent regulator for the UK communications industry, outlining the anti-competitive nature of the iPlayer and what should be done to remedy the situation

Iain Roberts, chief executive of the OSC, remarked: “Microsoft’s first-entrant advantage with the BBC iPlayer service comes at a time when it will be seeking maximum opportunity to promote its new operating system Microsoft Vista.

“If the BBC can only justify or afford one technology then it should be required to use a technology that is available for all operating system platforms.”

The BBC responded by saying that it has also taken a platform-neutral approach and that it was currently working on making the iPlayer service available for Mac users by autumn.

It said that the iPlayer service will be available through links from YouTube later this year and possibly through other portals like MSN, Bebo, and Facebook.

For now, the downloadable BBC TV shows are set for expiration after 30 days of viewing, using Microsoft’s digital rights management (DRM) application, and can only be viewed using the iPlayer or Windows Media Player 10 or 11.

Currently, BBC has three specially commissioned channels on YouTube comprising of clips from TV shows and news, as well as documentaries presented by BBC veterans like David Attenborough.

Other features to be added gradually to the iPlayer service include live streaming TV shows and a radio player, as well as “series stacking”, the ability to download older episodes from a series.

By Marie Boran