Category Archives: BBC

Billy Bragg gives the John Peel memorial lecture

http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/interactive/2012/nov/12/billy-bragg-john-peel-lecture-watch-live

BBC News’ Google Ads!

BBC News Website.

 

 

Hmmmmmmmmmm……

 

 

Something’s different!

 

BBCNewsGoogleAds01

Did you see it?

 

Answer honestly!

 

Look again…

 

BBCNewsGoogleAds02

 

I wonder what new feature they have?

 

Look closer….

 

Closer….

 

BBCNewsGoogleAds03

Can you tell what it is yet?

No way!

Is it really what I think it is?

BBCNewsGoogleAds04

 

EWHHHHH! I feel dirty!

 

Google Ads!

 

The BBC is JAWS (Just Another WebSite)!

 

Credibility=ZERO 

 

And the websites “featured”:

BBCNewsAd01Cropped

BBCNewsAd02Cropped

BBCNewsAd03Cropped

FAIL!

The BBC – Combating Piracy In The Digital Age.

Next Wednesday the BBC is hosting a conference entitled “Combating Piracy In The Digital Age.“:

On 6 May the BBC is hosting a conference, bringing together people from across a wide range of creative industries to examine common approaches to combating online piracy.

Rt Hon David Lammy MP, Minister of State for Higher Education and Intellectual Property, will make a keynote address. Media analyst Mathew Horsman will present the latest analysis of how piracy is affecting music, TV, film and other sectors including computer games, business software and publishing. Senior figures from these industries will discuss the right legal approach to tackling piracy; the role that media literacy and consumer education might play; and how new business models could create attractive legal alternatives to what the pirates offer.

I will be going along and I am hoping it will prove to be a productive conference.

My vision and advice for the industry:

Commercial Tools

– The content producers in a digital media world have lost their ability to guarantee the uniqueness of their content.
Content owners have sought to lock their content down with Digital Rights Management (DRM) techniques. These DRM techniques have imposed much greater restrictions on content reproduction and distribution than those present in a non-DRM world. This has led to a desire for those who wish to have their content as free as possible to seek to circumvent these DRM techniques. The past ten years, since the introduction of the DMCA act in the United States in 1998, has seen a clash of cultures between those who believe that content owners have a right to manage the distribution of their product and those who believe that this content is part of culture and should be freely available. The advent of faster network access, improved coding techniques, more powerful computers, new protocols allowing for decentralised, distributed digital media delivery architecture, the rise of Open Source computing and the convergence of consumer media products has created seismic shifts in the digital media landscape. This has resulted in content producers starting to look at distributing their content DRM-free – but without having an alternative system which allows them to maintain some control they recognise that they are in a business model which is doomed to extinction.

– The infrastructure owners, the people delivering digital media content, have no incentive to deliver unique content.
Online delivery methods have developed which are decentralised and open. These have facilitated the free sharing of digital media – where the marginal cost of copying is almost zero. This has resulted in more people wanting greater infrastructure access, faster broadband, uncapped limits, etc. The infrastructure owners have benefited from non-interference in the traffic flowing across their network. Hence there is no gain for them, at the moment, in having one digital copy more valuable than another. They also have no desire to do the content owners job for them. The infrastructure owners recognise that the content producers have painted themselves into a corner with their doomed policies on DRM. They also recognise that by adopting the “do nothing” approach they can continue to benefit from the explosion in digital media content without having to get directly involved in negotiating access to it. There is a lack of trust on both sides. There have been efforts by both sides to legislate and sue the other into compliance. Neither side is enamoured with the other at the moment.

– The key is to develop a Digital Media Exchange to put trust back into the ecosystem and give both content producers and infrastructure owners the benefits of a unique digital media product.

This will require the will of the content producers to try something different – which they are more than willing to do at the moment – and a big carrot for the infrastructure owners. This we can give them as there are a lot of complementary services they could develop, which is what they will need in their competitive market where margins are low and churn rate is high.

The plan would be to digitally watermark content as it enters the Digital Media Exchange to allow for a unique identifier to be attributed to each piece of content. The content will also be in the highest quality format. You can then implement a system which will allow the people who wish to have access to this content – primarily focusing on businesses wishing to sell advertising (and using the content as a vehicle) to begin with – to specify what format they wish to get this in and how they wish to place their logos/messages on the audio/video.

The advantage this gives to the content owner is that they now have a unique product which can be redistributed in multiple format but always with a unique identifier and so therefore with a full audit trail. The advantage to the infrastructure owner is that by having access to a legitimate source of content they can build services around this which they can use to differentiate their offering from their competitors. The advantage to the advertiser is they get access to a whole new world of legitimate content – an untapped market which the content producer now can bring their product to, thus delivering them another benefit.

The input of digital media is the advantage for the content producer. All they need to provide is one high quality copy of the product with appropriate descriptions of the content. After that the system within the Digital Media Exchange assigns the appropriate coding to the file to indicate who it originated from and when and then proceeds to transcode multiple copies in multiple formats – each with its own unique code to identify it.

Within a Digital Media Exchange advertisers can choose the individual files, categories, user profiles, genres, etc. they wish to market to and upload appropriate branding to go with the formats and different market segments can get the same content with different branding, also diffent market regions can get different products targetted at the same demographic.

The digital media buyer can browse the Digital Media Exchange online and choose both file format and branding they would like on their output. If they would like to brand the file with their own specific identity then that facility also exists. So they can have the choice of:

File
Quality

Branding

None

Bespoke

Advert

High

Expensive

Medium

Mid-range

Low

Free

This leads to a world where content producers and broadcasters stop thinking in terms of units sold or ratings achieved and more in terms of relationships formed.

Content producers target specific broadcasters for their market reach. Broadcasters deliver specific content to specific channels for specific market segments. People become fans of certain programmes/genres and they place a certain value on a programme based on the channel they receive it. These are the relationships that exist already between the various parties in the entertainment chain. These relationships get measured currently by specific metrics and these metrics give a value to a distribution chain.

By allowing users to store content centrally, the broadcaster becoming the facilitator of access to that content and the content producer being the primary source for renewal or upgrading of that content then you begin to build a new ecosystem that allows digital files to become unique as they begin to have a value that comes from the relationships.

This may not be to everyone’s liking – or people may want more immediate results – but if you begin to accept the realities of digital distribution then you recognise the need to think and act differently!

BBC iPlayer – On a road to nowhere…

Road To Nowhere

Photo: Tom Blackwell. Used under Licence

Anthony Rose, Head of Digital Media Technology (or Head, Online Media Group depending on which bio you read) has a post on the BBC Internet blog entitled “BBC iPlayer goes portable” which depresses me. I thought Anthony Rose was going to be one of the new breed of BBC people who would fix some of the issues with the iPlayer – but this post breaks my heart! 😦

The most telling piece is this:

As part of trying to make the download experience as easy as possible, we’re not using P2P for these portable downloads; the files are served as direct HTTP downloads from our servers, which means you don’t need to install any software – just click the Download for Media Players link and save the file.

This is wrong on so many levels:

Firstly – he has just spent the preceding half of the post trying to explain which platforms will play the DRM’ed files, how to check if your media player may be one of them, what to do if it’s not and how downloading a file may not be enough to get it to work first time on your portable device – and yet he says he is – “trying to make the download experience as easy as possible“. Aaaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!! Hint no. 1  – don’t use DRM.

Secondly – The fact that the BBC is not “not using P2P for these portable downloads” means that one of the core technologies that defined the original concept of the iMP/iPlayer is now redundant. The fact that the BBC is not using P2P is a sign that as a technology it’s failing. There is no reason not to use it, as the whole previous  discussion in the post is about “sideloading” the DRM’ed content onto a portable media player – so it would still require a Windows PC to get the content in the first place. So now, one of the principle reasons why Windows DRM was used in the first place – because P2P was the technology being used to distribute the content – is gone and therefore, with it, the reason for using Windows DRM – but instead of recognising this opportunity, Anthony bemoans the fact that Apple won’t let the BBC DRM it’s content! Aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!! Hint no. 2  – don’t use DRM.

Thirdly – Because it’s not using P2P then Anthony goes on to say “the files are served as direct HTTP downloads from our servers, which means you don’t need to install any software“. I have no idea why he thinks HTTP is significant here – it’s just a protocol. Whether it’s being FTP’ed, RTSP’ed or NNTP’ed is irrelevant, if you are delivering the whole file to me in one go then I have it all in one place. The significant thing here is the fact that it’s not using a P2P protocol – because this means my upstream back to my ISP isn’t being used. So this looks like a compromise for the ISPs. So now you’re looking after the ISP by dropping P2P and the content owner by DRM’ing the content. Who have you left compromised? The licence fee payer. FAIL! Why? Because this is technologically, in effect, exactly the same as the streaming offering, which is DRM free – but the BBC made a magical agreement with the BBC Trust and PACT that somehow streaming was different from downloading and now the only reason for continuing to use DRM is to keep this charade going! Aaaaaaarrrrrgggghhhhh!!!! Hint no. 3  – don’t use DRM.

Your life would be a lot simpler and you wouldn’t have to try and do these verbal and technological gymnastics if you just admit to the Trust and the rights owners that “streaming” is technologically the same as “downloading” and what you do with the streaming option – GeoIP restriction – hasn’t caused the end of the world – so it may well be worth trying the same with the download option. 

Photo: juicyrai. Used under Licence

Sometimes if you’re on the wrong road, the best thing to do is to stop, turn around and start again in a different direction. You may find it saves you a lot of heartache in the long-run! 🙂

How the BBC should provide a digital public service.

Nick Reynolds has asked some questions – directly and indirectly – in a post entitled: Freedom? Open Source? Show me how!.

Indirectly, he refers to a myCBBC post on the BBC Internet blog which asks:

– should broadcasters like the BBC allow users to collate other material alongside BBC assets?
– and if so, how do we technically guarantee that content is appropriate for younger users and doesn’t cross the line with third party rights agreements?

which I addressed previously with this idea:

Ultimately though, in my opinion, the BBC should be seeking to get content from the public and then act as a “store and forward” publisher, along with contributing some of its own content into a Digital Commons. Imagine if the BBC gave you the tools to publish your data/content wherever you wanted to from a central location. You could upload your images/video/text/audio to a space the BBC provided for you as part of your “digital licence” fee and once there you could have a suite of tools available which would allow you to publish that content to any other platform. Part of the job of the tool would be to pass the content through a BBC stamping procedure – which would allow for the content to be tracked across the Internet. This would let the BBC maintain quality control and manage any legal issues. Maintaining an area as a Digital Commons would mean that anyone wishing to play with BBC content could do so quite easily with the full knowledge that any content the BBC placed in a Digital Commons was public domain – a digital public service!

Directly, in his post he asks two questions deriving from two meetings he had. I’ve posted a comment on his site answering these:

“Why should the BBC let anyone use its brands or assets for nothing?”
Once content goes digital then people using your assets for “nothing” is an issue you have to confront. Your content is beyond your control when it is in a digital state – but if the purpose of broadcasting that content, in the first place, is to build a relationship with your audience and provide a public service, then these functions are still within your control – you just have to see people using your assets as being a good thing and a way of building relationships with your audience and a public service. The key thing to focus on is that this is about your content going digital. It’s not about being on the Internet – the Internet is just another distribution channel. On the brand issue – anyone using your brand without permission is seeking to subvert your efforts to build relationships and is “poisoning the well” – your brand is important and to be defended.

“He wants people to be able to come to the BBC and know instantly what assets they can take away and how they can play with them.”
It’s digital content – that’s how it works. The Internet is just the part of the broadcast chain with the lowest barrier to entry for production and distribution i.e. very few teenagers have their own broadcast studio with editing suite and terrestrial/satellite transmitter but quite a lot have a PC with a webcam and an Internet connection. Now if your content is being distributed digitally then it becomes part of the lingua franca of the Internet. The questions now are 1) How you maintain a link between the content and its source as it flows around this global network and 2) How do you build a relationship with this global audience?

Which leads us to your questions.

How are you going to do it?
The key is to maintain a link with the digital content and through that link build a relationship with the audience. Which is exactly the opportunity GlobalDMX.com seeks to exploit. I left the BBC to start up this company as there is a win-win scenario here for content producer and distributor if they can be facilitated in working together. The alternative is the music industry!

And how are you going to persuade the people with the power that it should be done?
This concept is something UK plc must adopt – strategically it’s the digital equivalent of the Silk Road and the nation state that adapts by taking over the trade from the pirates and legalising (taxing) the goods that flow along the distribution chain reaps the reward.

Ps Andy Burnham’s pronouncements are to be seen in the same light as French governments in terms of a three-strike policy. No one believes such a localised law would survive a European Court challenge – but it makes for good headlines!

So there you go – get out there and build relationships by digitizing your content with a view to maintaining a link with it as it travels across the network – and where you are building a community around this content put tools and processes in place which allow the provenance of it to be traceable.

My work is done here!

The BBC – a Digital Commons redux

I posted a long comment, which expands on the Digital Commons idea I was proposing, on Steve Bowbrick’s post discussing freeing content at the BBC. I’ve copied it below as it’s something I think I will expand on further and this is not a bad start:

Steve,

This is along the lines of the issue I was raising at the BBC/TechCrunch debate – but you’re looking at it from the perspective of freeing the content they have broadcast, whereas I was approaching it from an angle of new content which would automatically be ingested into the BBC free of the existing restrictive rights model.

If you wish to use the current content for which they have rights agreements in place or the archive content – then the BBC has no chance of being a rights innovator or a copyright activist – which automatically has the knock on effect of giving them no leeway in freeing the content. Tom Loosemore, one of the panel at the BBC/TechCrunch debate, has the scars to prove how difficult this is and Tony Ageh, another of the panel, is currently mired in the joys of finding a solution for the archive.

See the snippets of a much longer – but currently untraceable on the BBC site – interview with Simon Hayward-Tapp on the BBC Archive website for a glimpse into the world of archives and rights.

The BBC has the will to do the right thing but it would be sued out of existence by the rights holders if it tried to be too radical. One of my suggestions to Tony Ageh is to mimic the accepted practice of the BBC News webpages and simply use some of the archive material they have available in a low quality format and have a link to the high quality download on the website of the rights holder. News does a story on a company and has a link to the company’s website in the right hand navigation bar – accepted practice. So, it’s nothing new. It’s just applying accepted practice to another digital medium. Where you can find agreement with rights holders, who have high quality content available, post low quality versions on the archive site and have links to the high quality versions – a win-win scenario. The BBC gets content cleared from the archive and the rights holder gets traffic from the BBC. Now you probably will find that this is a tiny percentage of the archive – but it’s a start and it would also be a signpost for other rights holders with content in the archive that they could now consider worth clearing it to drive traffic to their online offerings. The BBC trades traffic for content clearance.

Ultimately though, in my opinion, the BBC should be seeking to get content from the public and then act as a “store and forward” publisher, along with contributing some of its own content into a Digital Commons. Imagine if the BBC gave you the tools to publish your data/content wherever you wanted to from a central location. You could upload your images/video/text/audio to a space the BBC provided for you as part of your “digital licence” fee and once there you could have a suite of tools available which would allow you to publish that content to any other platform. Part of the job of the tool would be to pass the content through a BBC stamping procedure – which would allow for the content to be tracked across the Internet. This would let the BBC maintain quality control and manage any legal issues. Maintaining an area as a Digital Commons would mean that anyone wishing to play with BBC content could do so quite easily with the full knowledge that any content the BBC placed in a Digital Commons was public domain – a digital public service!

If the tools of production and publishing for digital content have been decentralised then what the BBC can do is act as a centralised clearing house for the content. This is a way it can innovate and act as a activist on content rights and as a consequence free the content!

The BBC – a Digital Commons.

1908 Berlin Balloon Race from the Bain Collection
Photo: Library of Congress. Public Domain.

Confirmed this morning – I’m off to the BBC/TechCrunch debate next week.

Mike Butcher has focused the discussion on the BBC as a common platform – i.e.:

Steve Bowbrick, who is chairing the debate, and I have subtitled the debate ‘a common platform’ which is a phrase that seems to suggest the potential for the Corporation (and other players like 4ip) to build a shared space for citizens, organisations, institutions and businesses to use.

Steve Bowbrick has a blog post which deals with this in more detail:

So what I’m talking about is building a big, generous, accommodating public platform that runs code and community and content – making life easier for creators and communities in Britain. A kind of giant shared computer that exposes useful assets like public data, educational content, archives and library catalogues, health data and democratic and community tools… The whole range of useful and enabling content and services that comes from state providers like the BBC, the Ordnance Survey and the Public Records Office and also the good stuff that comes from the commercial and third sectors.

On the panel is Azeem Azahar who wrote previously about a BBC Public License – which would:

* Use BBC content, build on it, add value, build audiences and personal relationships with it;

* Use BBC code, improve on it, make a business from it, give spin-offs from it away or sell them;

* Use BBC services to develop digital society, because the BBC can provide things that the market can’t;

A digital commons concept
Photo: Philippa Willitts. Used under licence.

These ideas are along the lines of the digital commons concept I was proposing:

Nick,

I floated a few ideas (in the New Ideas Symposium and the Innovation Forum) in my days at the BBC.

Their essence lay in the fact that the BBC, historically, had been given a slice of scarce spectrum and in return provided a public service, but that in the digital era where spectrum was plentiful the BBC needed to focus and seek to act like a “commons” and provide an area where people could gather and share ideas and thoughts openly and creatively, with the BBC adding to the discussion (not seeking to lead). Part of this required a re-imagining of what the licence fee funded/was for.

As it stands people equate the licence fee with paying for the BBC, whereas I was agitating for a digital licence to fund content creation and for the BBC to offer a commons area where this content could be shared freely. The main intent was to move away from the idea being of funding access to an individual playout device – the television – and to be seen to be an organisation that simply made its content available to the nation, who could creatively use it after that.

I don’t think the licence fee is a bad way to fund the BBC (as long as the BBC keeps to it’s public service remit!) but I do think that it has got conflated with simply funding television viewing and as such it needs to be “replaced” and a new digital licence introduced with a new mission statement of what the BBC does.

I’m looking forward to this debate as it may be the birthplace for some interesting ideas!
Birthplace of the stars
Image: NASA. Public Domain.

Spinal Tap were pussies! My iPlayer goes to 16!!!!!

In a hat tip to Spinal Tap

This Is Spinal Tap

the BBC’s iPlayer volume goes to 11:

iPlayer volume 11

Why 11? This is a fan’s view or if you wish to hear it from the genius that is Nigel Tufnel:

This was the presumed limit of human engineering power.

UNTIL NOW!

My iPlayer  goes to 16!!!!!

iPlayer embedded volume 16

Full screen? You bet:

iPlayer volume 16 full screen

This is 5 louder!

PS – For those who like the technical details – browser:

browser details

Flash version:

flash version

Stephen Fry on the future of Public Service Broadcasting

Following on from a previous post, Stephen Fry gave a lecture recently entitled “The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting – Some Thoughts” and it is available on a special BBC website  – The BBC And The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting.

I think the following excerpts are key from his lecture:

…but is it broadcasting, is it, actually, what anyone wants? Well actually, it exactly isn’t broadcasting, it’s narrow-casting. But is it wanted? I don’t know, I can’t speak for Britain, I can’t second guess polls, though I can imagine how easily they will return the results wanted by either side, according to the way the questions are framed. “Do you want to see the BBC dismantled so that you have to choose and pay for all your programmes like a hotel room film menu?” NO. “Do you want to stop paying the licence fee and being forced to watch poncey documentaries and have access to thousands of films and saucy programmes at the click of a button?” YES. GIGO, as they used to say in the early days of computing: garbage in, garbage out.

But that is nothing, nothing to the real problem. Content. Production. Programme making. TV programmes suffer from the embarrassing necessity of having to be written and made. Unlike Yorkie Bars or tennis balls or mobile phones you can’t just gear up the machinery and stamp them out in perpetuity. Every damned new programme has to be developed, nurtured, and tried out. Relationships have to be forged with writers, performers, presenters and directors, failures have to be accommodated and accepted. How this is achieved in a brave new world of post switchover root and branch restructuring, I don’t know.

and

…I genuinely cannot see that the nation would benefit from a diminution of any part of the BBC’s great whole. It should be as closely scrutinised as possible of course, value for money, due humility and all that, but to reduce its economies of scale, its artistic, social and national reach for misbegotten reasons of ideology or thrift would be a tragedy. We got here by an unusual route that stretches back to Reith. We have evolved extraordinarily, like our parliament and other institutions, such is the British way. Yes, we could cut it all down and remake ourselves in the image of Italy or Austria or some other notional modern state. We could sharpen the axe, we could cut away apparently dead wood, we could reinvent the wheel, we could succumb to the natural desires of commercial media companies. Although I have an axe to grind on this, you should understand that it is personal not professional. Actually, if licence fee slicing and other radical plans do go ahead, I do not believe it would affect my career as performer, presenter or producer; in fact I would probably profit more from the change. It is simply that I don’t want to live in a country that emasculates the BBC. Yes, I want to see Channel 4 secure, but I don’t believe that the only way to save it is to reduce the BBC. We can afford what we decide we can afford.

You know when you visit another country and you see that it spends more money on flowers for its roundabouts than we do, and you think … coo, why don’t we do that? How pretty. How pleasing. What a difference it makes. To spend money for the public good in a way that enriches, gives pleasure, improves the quality of life, that is something. That is a real achievement. It’s only flowers in a roundabout, but how wonderful. Well, we have the equivalent of flowers in the roundabout times a million: the BBC enriches the country in ways we will only discover when it has gone and it is too late to build it up again. We actually can afford the BBC, because we can’t afford not to.

These two quotes sum up what Stephen was getting at – yes, content is expensive (but it’s expensive for a reason and won’t always succeed) and it is not a question of whether you can afford to, but what the cost is, of not cherishing what you have.

I am not going to argue these points but what I would say is there is a reason why people question the BBC’s public service remit – and the main reason is BBC3.

Stephen makes reference to possible future Channel 4 commissions such as ” The Man With a Nose Growing Out of His Bottom”, “The Girl With Fourteen Nipples” and ” The Boy Whose Testicles Play The Harpsichord”but fails to quote the actually commissioned BBC3 programmes of “F*** Off I’m Ginger“, “F*** Off I’m Small” and of course not forgetting the wonderfully titled “F*** Off I’m A Hairy Woman“.

I’m all for flowers on the roundabout but you have to keep the weeds out to maintain the aesthetic.

Is this the future of the BBC?

Stephen Fry gave a lecture recently entitled “The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting – Some Thoughts” and it is available on a special BBC website  – The BBC And The Future Of Public Service Broadcasting.

The fact that the BBC put it on the Internet might make you think that they would like this to be read, seen and listened to  by a large, global audience.

So, you can read the transcript:

Stephen Fry and The Future Of The BBC Transcript

Watch the video:

Stephen Fry and The Future Of The BBC Video

Listen to the aud… – ooooooops!!!!!!!!! No audio:

Stephen Fry and The Future Of The BBC Audio

It’s blocked to non-UK Internet users.

The BBC iPlayer is the name for the on-demand service and also the software used for the media player.

The service uses GeoIP software to block users outside the UK from accessing the iPlayer on-demand content. They are also integrating the iPlayer software as the embedded  media player across the site.

So, they have a service which blocks IP addresses to on-demand content, software which acts as a front-end to this service and is also the embedded media player for the website.

Result – cross-infection.

So which of these is the future of the BBC – both audio and video should be blocked? Audio shouldn’t be blocked? Audio, video and transcript should be blocked?

Or, to make things a bit more surreal, could it be the case that the video shouldn’t be blocked but it should be re-dubbed with, say, Gerry Adams reading the transcript?

And if you’re wondering if this is a one off – the previous lecture by David Attenborough is exactly the same:
David Attenborough and The Future Of The BBC Audio

Also, why the BBC Parliament feed isn’t expiring after 7 day iPlayer window is a mystery to me. Has something changed since Tom Loosemore pointed this (rights-free) issue out previously?

As for the Stephen Fry lecture itself and what he had to say – more on that to follow.

Marginal cost of zero or substitute goods – Redux!

(Or how I learned to stop worrying and love economics AGAIN!)

Dr_Strangelove_Redux

Following my original post – which induced some head scratching in some BBC people – I’ve revisited this idea in more detail:

If I have only a set number of hours in the day to watch/listen/read what you have to offer and I can now carry/sit at/watch a device which allows me to do any or all of these functions, and more, then the scarce resource isn’t the spectrum required to deliver the audio/video or the printing press required to deliver the text – but the scarce resource is my time. Using DRM to try and create a scarce resource (which is what DRM really tries to do) where there is none is flawed – more so, when there is a valid scarce resoruce already to hand!

Why is my time the scarce resource?

If I have a device which lets me treat all of these separate functions like one act – instead of having to decide whether I buy this newspaper or that one, whether to listen to this radio station or that one, whether to watch this programme or that one – I get to decide whether to read this newspaper or watch this programme, whether to listen to this station or read this article, etc. – then I can switch between one digital version of content and another without distinguishing between them as being completely different media. So I can substitute one for another.

Now the guys in the audio business are in competition with the video and text guys as well as the other guys in audio for a limited slice of my time. The video guys are in competition with the audio and text guys as well as the other video guys for a limited slice of my time. The text guys are in competition with the audio and video guys as well as the other text guys for a limited slice of my time.

Once content people start to realise that to make their content compelling they have to ensure that the text they have also has the appropriate audio and video links and vice versa, then they too realise that each bit of content is in some ways a substitute for the other – but by putting it all together in one space it makes the need for me to substitute one for another unnecessary. Make this offering compelling enough and it means I just use you for all my audio, video and text needs (free and paid-for) – thus instead of substituting one content/provider for another I see all your offerings as one complementary piece.

The convergence of electronic devices doesn’t mean I will eventually use only one device for everything but what it does mean is any of the devices I will have will be able to display all the various types of media and either I will swap the digital content between them quite easily or the digital content will live in the cloud and all the devices will be connected continuously to the cloud and to each other.

This gets more disrupted by some of the digital content being free of any economic cost. Therefore, because I can substitute one offering for another – I can read the blog entry which has the YouTube links to what I’m interested in or I can pay to read your article which has links to the official video which I also must pay for (and is in a proprietary format which will only play on one of the platforms I move my media around on) – you had better makes what you have worth paying for because there is no incentive for me to pay, if both cost the same amount of my time.

Now some make the case that all information should be free but that is not what my argument is. Just because something is free doesn’t make it worth spending my time on – but when all digital content (audio/video/text) can be reproduced and put online for little or no cost then your offering must compete with free. There is no point ignoring this concept or hoping to sue it or technologically defeat it out of existence.

What you can do is recognise that free is your starting point and then add value to various offerings that you have that make investing economically worthwhile – so you can have a free low quality version which has a link to the free medium quality (nagging) ad supported version which has a link to the paid-for high quality, personalised download from the content producer’s distribution system.

With the rapid growth in storage capacity, for a much cheaper price per megabyte, then people are making the argument that the cost of a digital reproduction is, in effect, zero – two much repeated examples at the moment are Chris Andersons’s “Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business” and Kevin Kelly’s “Better Than Free”

Both build their arguments implicitly on the demise of geographically restricted rights agreements – which is premature. But what they do correctly show, is that by taking the thing that makes the Internet so scary for rights holders (anyone can copy my stuff) and make that into a virtue (anyone can copy my stuff) then you begin to use the Internet, it’s community and your digital content to great effect.

Another article that gets repeated is a TechDirt one – “Saying You Can’t Compete With Free Is Saying You Can’t Compete Period”. I think the assumptions in this are flawed – but it does use “the marginal cost is zero” argument.

Once your stuff goes digital you have to compete with free.

Free is not a bad/good thing in itself but it is important that you recognise it as your starting point.

Adding value to the experience is where the sweet spot is in terms of being on the upward growth curve.

And that is the argument I was making.

BBC Internet blog – I was wrong!

Back in the day, when the idea of the BBC Internet blog was first being mooted I suggested some names.

They were:

BBC 2.0 blog
BBC DigiMedia blog
BBC eMedia blog
BBC fMedia blog
BBC TechnoWeb blog
BBC Janus blog
BBC Teh Internets blog
BBC WTF??? blog
(or just accept it and call it “FFS – ENOUGH about the iPlayer! blog”)

On the last one – I was completely wrong!

The recently redesigned homepage has prompted loads of comments (the ones that managed to get through!) – almost as many as on Richard Titus’ post indicating it was coming.

This is very interesting. I would have dismissed the homepage redesign as merely a brand refresh exercise and that the really important stuff was the technology underpinning this.

There have been excellent posts about some of the changes afoot on the audio, visual and online fronts – all of which I would have imagined would have drawn much more animated responses. There are some very important issues discussed in relation to  the BBC’s Future Media and Technology arm. Surely destined to draw a massive response from the technology community?

Nope! The homepage. This is the burning issue for the people commenting on the BBC Internet blog.

Just goes to show – it ain’t the technology, it’s what you do with it.

BBC iPlayer, DRM, cross platform support and Peer-to-Peer Part II.

The BBC is getting an ass-kicking in the technological playground that is the Internet at the moment. This is mainly because it’s playing by the rules whilst others are playing fast and loose (Last.fm, YouTube to name just two) with the legal niceties.

My own personal opinion is that the BBC made a decision to go with peer-to-peer technology as a means to distribute their content online and as a result of this they ended up having to implement a proprietary DRM solution (and thus took away the ability to be cross-platform) to try and satisfy some of the competing stakeholders, which naturally ended up disenfranchising other stakeholders. Somebody had to make the unenviable call as to who would lose out (possibly just in the short-term with a view to meeting their requirements in the long term) – but there was always going to be a loser.

Now, if it were up to me I would have gone with centralised distribution of high quality audio/video via multicast, low bitrate DRM-free downloads (i.e. the poor man’s BBC) and a “streaming” Flash 30 day catch-up service. Why? – because soon the problem won’t be getting to see content online but being able to find the quality from the tidal wave of content that is coming. With plummeting storage costs and soaring broadband speeds the amount of content that can be stored and moved around the Internet will only increase exponentially.

This would have caused a problem with rights holders but I would have worked with them to bring them into the Promised Land – as they will thank the BBC in the long run when they realise that getting your stuff found online is going to be their biggest headache – when Google/News Corp/Microsoft/Yahoo become the gatekeepers. The BBC have little text links beside their news stories (some might dare to call them ads) to take you to the appropriate website of an individual or organisation named in the article. Having a 30 day catch-up service that had a URL to take you to the rights holders’ commercial offering or a low bitrate download which had embedded html links or a watermark which “linked” you to the rights holders high bitrate offering would be a massive service to the rights holders and simply an expansion on an existing practice.

Now they may have not gone for this but I would have tried something else and then something else and then something else – because I fundamentally believe it would have actually been in the best interests of the rights holders (even though they may not have recognised it immediately) in the long run.

Rights should be protected. Starting with the consumer’s. If the BBC had started from this premise then it would have won more advocates – as it is it has continued down the dead-end of using DRM to protect the content – which is doomed to failure, as the very notion of DRM protecting any content evaporated with FairUse4WM being updated before the iPlayer soft launch and allowing all the files to be cracked – resulting in press releases stating that all DRM is going to get cracked – thus making the whole process invalid and pointless. The thing to remember though is that the guys designing the iPlayer system would have implemented DRM for the rights holders, whose wishes are in direct conflict with the licence fee payer’s rights whose wishes are in economic conflict with the wishes of the industry players, etc – so it was always going to be in conflict with one interested parties wishes.

Rights should be protected. Starting with those of the licence fee payer, those of the content creator, those of the copyright holder, etc. They may need to stop calling it Digital Rights Management though – as I’m sure most people now interpret this as some kind of “Microsoft knows best” and “We will only let you watch/listen/print/etc what we want you to watch/listen/print/etc”. So instead it may be worth rebranding it as Digital Rights Protection and start from the point of wishing to protect peoples rights – those of the licence fee payer, those of the content creator, those of the copyright holder, etc. and not worry about how you protect the content for the moment – to be fair it hasn’t been a huge success up to now (unless you’re selling a DRM solution, but even then those days are numbers as evidenced by SONY rootkits and Amazon/Virgin Digital/Google Video all pulling their DRM offerings) and when in a hole the best thing to do, to begin with, is stop digging!

Anybody who thinks they’ve got the answer – they don’t! They just have a way of satisfying their needs/requirements/desires – but this means that someone else will suffer –  as at the end of the day the BBC is comprised of a group of competing wishes and desires and operating in a competitive marketplace where it has the added impediment of government oversight et al.

There are very, very smart people working at the BBC. They are fully aware of all of the ins and outs of the arguments. Sometimes someone makes a decision and it’s the wrong one in the long term, but in the short term it is absolutely the right one – as it deals with the immediately biggest hurdle, which if it isn’t surmounted then all the subsequent little hurdles matter not a jot. The important thing to remember is the BBC does not operate in a vacuum, not only does it’s actions have repercussions on the industry but also because it’s looking to play in the online environment, then stuff can come out of left field and completely scupper it’s best laid plans. It’s a giant in the historical broadcasting era but it’s just another player, for the moment, in the online world.

The iPlayer Reality Distortion Field is obviously nature’s way of balancing out the Steve Jobs RDF! Just as Steve Jobs continues to make silk purses out of sows’ ears, so the iPlayer continues to be King Midas in reverse. Eric Huggers, ex Microsoft, had nothing to do with DRM on either iPlayer or iMP – and since he joined the BBC announces that it will be “streaming” content via Adobe flash – yet he is held up as an example of the Microsoft disease in the BBC.

Anybody who says this has never worked in the BBC. There is a corporate desire to use the pervasive platform versus the creative desire to use the most versatile and inspiring versus the engineers desire to use the most robust and most technically solid versus the news/vision/audio and music/nations and regions/etc divisions desire to use their application– this is the same in any creative organisation I would imagine – but if you haven’t worked there then you would just assume that what is rolling out the door is some “BBC” master plan but it isn’t – what you get most of the time is a compromise.

Points off the top of my head:

1. Good people on iPlayer working against competing goals – rights owners versus licence fee payers versus industry players versus government restrictions versus industry watchdog versus governors/trustees versus changing marketplace

2. Agreement with PACT for 30 days – the Trust says 16???? WTF?

3. The Beethoven downloads were done without consulting and MIA by OFCOM specifically legislates against classical music downloading – a real-world example OFCOM had to work with or an opportunity to set an example as a warning to others? Either way this is an example of the law of unintended consequences.

4. The iPlayer service is the on-demand service BUT there is also an iPlayer application. The iPlayer service is the important thing – which establishes the BBC’s right to deliver content over IP. The iPlayer application (the thing with the DRM) is the uncle we shall not speak of.

5. The Trust coming along and saying that they recognise that 80% of people submitting an opinion didn’t want DRM but they were going to ignore this??? WTF?

Yes the BBC should do good – as the current funding model allows it to operate in a way that should free it from the day-to-day hubbub of corporate politics – but the changing media landscape means that some attempts at adapting will be wrong, not through any malice or nefarious plan, but simply with so many competing interests to satisfy taking a punt on one possible solution is guaranteed to piss somebody off but at least it is worth it if the market is going in the same direction. All that’s happened with the iPlayer at the moment is that someone made a call but the market has gone in a different direction, the BBC will now need to re-align to the new playing field.

 

As long as people care then the BBC is in rude health. I know this can seem like a huge annoyance when you have to listen to people spouting their vested interest with no regard for others interests, but the fact that people still think their voice counts means they are still investing in the BBC. When people stop caring is when you’re screwed.

Part I

(Update – this is a reposting of an original entry.)

Get your retaliation in first!

The Pirate Bay logo

Got an iPod?

You’re a PIRATE!

Got an MP3 player?

You’re a rampent copyright infringer!

Got a media centre? Got a computer?

You should pay for each digital copy you make and not be allowed to resell the original.

These are some of the “retaliate first” views expressed by the BPI and AIM on a consultation on copyright in the digital age by Lord Triesman, the UK’s Minister for Intellectual Property.

I would advise anyone who has a vested interest (i.e. anyone who owns an iPod/Mp3 Player/Media Centre/etc.) in providing a bit of a balanced view to have their voice heard by participating in the consultation process.

UK IPO, an Executive Agency of DIUS, has started a public consultation on copyright in the digital age. This is a follow up to the Gowers review of intellectual property.

The press release from DIUS is here:
http://www.dius.gov.uk/Press/08-01-08.html

The UK IPO public submission page is here:
http://www.ipo.gov.uk/about/about-consult/about-formal/about-formal-current/consult-copyrightexceptions.htm

Some of the initial press reaction:

BBC
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7176538.stm

The Register
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/01/08/copyright_reform/

Ars Technica
http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080108-uk-wants-to-make-cd-rips-legal-at-last.html

BBC iPlayer in a flash!

James Cridland has an excellent post espousing the wonderful new flash format of the BBC’s iPlayer.

Can’t see it myself (the execution – not the concept) as I’m in Ireland and the IP range is blocked.

If this works half as good as some of the experimental stuff then I would recommend sticking a Mac Mini under you TV with VLC (ask me why VLC if you really need to know) and connect wirelessly – it will change how you think of “broadcasting”!

Now, how long before someone checks to see if it works with a PS3, or a Wii with Opera installed, or alternatively finding out what weird and wonderful things some of those nice people in Kingswood have made it work on.

BBC iPlayer, DRM, cross platform support and Peer-to-Peer Part II.

The BBC is getting an ass-kicking in the technological playground that is the Internet at the moment. This is mainly because it’s playing by the rules whilst others are playing fast and loose (Last.fm, YouTube to name just two) with the legal niceties.

My own personal opinion is that the BBC made a decision to go with peer-to-peer technology as a means to distribute their content online and as a result of this they ended up having to implement a proprietary DRM solution (and thus took away the ability to be cross-platform) to try and satisfy some of the competing stakeholders, which naturally ended up disenfranchising other stakeholders. Somebody had to make the unenviable call as to who would lose out (possibly just in the short-term with a view to meeting their requirements in the long term) – but there was always going to be a loser.

Now, if it were up to me I would have gone with centralised distribution of high quality audio/video via multicast, low bitrate DRM-free downloads (i.e. the poor man’s BBC) and a “streaming” Flash 30 day catch-up service. Why? – because soon the problem won’t be getting to see content online but being able to find the quality from the tidal wave of content that is coming. With plummeting storage costs and soaring broadband speeds the amount of content that can be stored and moved around the Internet will only increase exponentially.

This would have caused a problem with rights holders but I would have worked with them to bring them into the Promised Land – as they will thank the BBC in the long run when they realise that getting your stuff found online is going to be their biggest headache – when Google/News Corp/Microsoft/Yahoo become the gatekeepers. The BBC have little text links beside their news stories (some might dare to call them ads) to take you to the appropriate website of an individual or organisation named in the article. Having a 30 day catch-up service that had a URL to take you to the rights holders’ commercial offering or a low bitrate download which had embedded html links or a watermark which “linked” you to the rights holders high bitrate offering would be a massive service to the rights holders and simply an expansion on an existing practice.

Now they may have not gone for this but I would have tried something else and then something else and then something else – because I fundamentally believe it would have actually been in the best interests of the rights holders (even though they may not have recognised it immediately) in the long run.

Rights should be protected. Starting with the consumer’s. If the BBC had started from this premise then it would have won more advocates – as it is it has continued down the dead-end of using DRM to protect the content – which is doomed to failure, as the very notion of DRM protecting any content evaporated with FairUse4WM being updated before the iPlayer soft launch and allowing all the files to be cracked – resulting in press releases stating that all DRM is going to get cracked – thus making the whole process invalid and pointless. The thing to remember though is that the guys designing the iPlayer system would have implemented DRM for the rights holders, whose wishes are in direct conflict with the licence fee payer’s rights whose wishes are in economic conflict with the wishes of the industry players, etc – so it was always going to be in conflict with one interested parties wishes.

Rights should be protected. Starting with those of the licence fee payer, those of the content creator, those of the copyright holder, etc. They may need to stop calling it Digital Rights Management though – as I’m sure most people now interpret this as some kind of “Microsoft knows best” and “We will only let you watch/listen/print/etc what we want you to watch/listen/print/etc”. So instead it may be worth rebranding it as Digital Rights Protection and start from the point of wishing to protect peoples rights – those of the licence fee payer, those of the content creator, those of the copyright holder, etc. and not worry about how you protect the content for the moment – to be fair it hasn’t been a huge success up to now (unless you’re selling a DRM solution, but even then those days are numbers as evidenced by SONY rootkits and Amazon/Virgin Digital/Google Video all pulling their DRM offerings) and when in a hole the best thing to do, to begin with, is stop digging!

Anybody who thinks they’ve got the answer – they don’t! They just have a way of satisfying their needs/requirements/desires – but this means that someone else will suffer –  as at the end of the day the BBC is comprised of a group of competing wishes and desires and operating in a competitive marketplace where it has the added impediment of government oversight et al.

There are very, very smart people working at the BBC. They are fully aware of all of the ins and outs of the arguments. Sometimes someone makes a decision and it’s the wrong one in the long term, but in the short term it is absolutely the right one – as it deals with the immediately biggest hurdle, which if it isn’t surmounted then all the subsequent little hurdles matter not a jot. The important thing to remember is the BBC does not operate in a vacuum, not only does it’s actions have repercussions on the industry but also because it’s looking to play in the online environment, then stuff can come out of left field and completely scupper it’s best laid plans. It’s a giant in the historical broadcasting era but it’s just another player, for the moment, in the online world.

The iPlayer Reality Distortion Field is obviously nature’s way of balancing out the Steve Jobs RDF! Just as Steve Jobs continues to make silk purses out of sows’ ears, so the iPlayer continues to be King Midas in reverse. Eric Huggers, ex Microsoft, had nothing to do with DRM on either iPlayer or iMP – and since he joined the BBC announces that it will be “streaming” content via Adobe flash – yet he is held up as an example of the Microsoft disease in the BBC.

Anybody who says this has never worked in the BBC. There is a corporate desire to use the pervasive platform versus the creative desire to use the most versatile and inspiring versus the engineers desire to use the most robust and most technically solid versus the news/vision/audio and music/nations and regions/etc divisions desire to use their application– this is the same in any creative organisation I would imagine – but if you haven’t worked there then you would just assume that what is rolling out the door is some “BBC” master plan but it isn’t – what you get most of the time is a compromise.

Points off the top of my head:

1. Good people on iPlayer working against competing goals – rights owners versus licence fee payers versus industry players versus government restrictions versus industry watchdog versus governors/trustees versus changing marketplace

2. Agreement with PACT for 30 days – the Trust says 16???? WTF?

3. The Beethoven downloads were done without consulting and MIA by OFCOM specifically legislates against classical music downloading – a real-world example OFCOM had to work with or an opportunity to set an example as a warning to others? Either way this is an example of the law of unintended consequences.

4. The iPlayer service is the on-demand service BUT there is also an iPlayer application. The iPlayer service is the important thing – which establishes the BBC’s right to deliver content over IP. The iPlayer application (the thing with the DRM) is the uncle we shall not speak of.

5. The Trust coming along and saying that they recognise that 80% of people submitting an opinion didn’t want DRM but they were going to ignore this??? WTF?

Yes the BBC should do good – as the current funding model allows it to operate in a way that should free it from the day-to-day hubbub of corporate politics – but the changing media landscape means that some attempts at adapting will be wrong, not through any malice or nefarious plan, but simply with so many competing interests to satisfy taking a punt on one possible solution is guaranteed to piss somebody off but at least it is worth it if the market is going in the same direction. All that’s happened with the iPlayer at the moment is that someone made a call but the market has gone in a different direction, the BBC will now need to re-align to the new playing field.

 

As long as people care then the BBC is in rude health. I know this can seem like a huge annoyance when you have to listen to people spouting their vested interest with no regard for others interests, but the fact that people still think their voice counts means they are still investing in the BBC. When people stop caring is when you’re screwed.

Part I

BBC iPlayer, DRM, cross platform support and Peer-to-Peer – Part I

 BBC Backstage interview with Ashley Highfield:

http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2007/10/iplayer_drm_and_1.html

The BBC Backstage mailing list:

http://www.mail-archive.com/backstage@lists.bbc.co.uk/maillist.html

More press around the topic:

http://networks.silicon.com/webwatch/0,39024667,39168980,00.htm?r=9

http://news.zdnet.co.uk/software/0,1000000121,39290458,00.htm?r=2

Cory Doctorow’s BoingBoing post on the matter:

http://www.boingboing.net/2007/10/30/bbc-execs-strawman-d.html

A previous BBC Backstage podcast on DRM:

http://backstage.bbc.co.uk/news/archives/2007/02/bbc_backstage_p_1.html

A previous Ashley Highfield interview:

http://www.paidcontent.co.uk/entry/419-interview-ashley-highfield-director-bbc-future-media-technology-trust-t

My previous comments on DRM, the iPlayer, cross platform support and Peer-to-Peer:

http://theobvious.typepad.com/blog/2007/02/cory_on_the_bbc.html

Bob – DRM isn’t about people getting paid.

It’s about control. Control of your playout platform and control of the playback format.

The BBC needs to get it head around this very basic concept – because whoever designs your DRM mechanism therefore decides on what platform you are on and how you can present the media to it.

This is the fundamental problem with the BBC locking it licence fee payers into a closed system.

BUT what the BBC doesn’t recognise is that it isn’t a problem for the licence fee payer but for the BBC itself. You are basically handing over control of a part of the broadcast chain to an outside interest, who may be more concerned with the technological enforcement effort rather than the media experience (i.e. SKY took their on-demand service off the Internet when fairuse4wm cracked Microsoft’s DRM).

It also requires that WHEN the DRM mechanism gets cracked that your must push an updated client to the platform to continue the lock-in. At which point you better pray that your update doesn’t screw around with the platform and break it completely. Not always a guarantee! At which point it becomes a concern for the licence fee payer – but for all the wrong reasons.

A DRM solution is possible, but only one that starts with the rights of the individual being respected and protected.

Any DRM solution I am aware of has protecting the content at it’s core – and assumes that all those who come in contact with it are, by default, thieves. Not a very BBC message to be sending to those who pay our wages.

Cory – I would guess the BBC people involved in the podcast are more interested in starting a debate on the DRM issue than defending it and kudos to them for getting it off to a lively start.

Posted by: Michael Walsh | February 13, 2007 at 11:43 PM

http://www.currybet.net/cbet_blog/2007/06/free_the_bbc_drm_debate.php

All the broadcasters (SKY, Channel4, BBC, etc.) have made the same mistake (or tried to do it on the cheap – choose your phrase) and drunk the kool-aid on P2P.

DRM is merely reflective of the rightsholders fear of the underlying technology.

– By using a peer-to-peer system the broadcasters have lost control of their content.
– The rightsholders recognise that this superdistribution model is fundamentally different from the broadcast model, in terms of scarce resources, content reproduction and control.
– DRM is seen as the panacea.

Spectrum is a scarce resource. There is a limited number of channels broadcasting a broad church of content. With peer-to-peer, as long as one person is willing to host the content then you can have, in effect, a dedicated channel to Doctor_Who.S03E11.MP4, The_Blue_Planet.S01E05.MP4, etc.

With the broadcast model, the broadcaster pumps out the content and moves on. What the person watching does with the content is not part of the pact the broadcasters have with the rightsholders. In a non-Internet world, reproduction on a global scale required a large capital investment. This meant a limited number of broadcasters with whom the rightsholders negotiated. This is no longer the case. Content reproduction and distribution just got “pwned” by the masses. Copyright law is not capable, at the moment, of dealing with the DRM-free P2P model. Rightsholders have no means of dealing with this new model and so seek to impose a technological control solution on top of the new distribution architecture.

So DRM is seen as a means of restricting content reproduction and imposing control on the distribution – in effect creating an artificial scarce resource.

The mistake the broadcasters have made is in believing in the underlying P2P technology without fully getting buy-in from the rightsholders (and a change copyright law – a task best left to the “pirates” who won’t get sued out of extinction). DRM and cross-platform issues are merely manifestations of the underlying issues.

There are other technological solutions to replace P2P. I believe this will happen. We will then look back on this period as a glorious failure by the broadcasters in trying one technology, which was ultimately supplanted by a better technological solution (cf Baird’s 240 line broadcasts versus Marconi’s 405 line system).

Posted by: Michael Walsh , July 15, 2007
Addendum:

P2P systems aren’t going away – but neither are the legal problems associated with them. In the end, the technological compromises to meet the legal obligations (which the BBC must comply with) simply make them the wrong platform, in my opinion, on which to distribute your content.

Posted by: Michael Walsh , July 15, 2007
Having said all the above, Ian Betteridge comes along and makes the case that the BBC has been regulated out of the innovation market – so there may well be a better technological solution – it just may not be coming from the BBC.

Posted by: Michael Walsh , July 15, 2007

Part II 

BBC Internet Services – A pre-history history

Absolute gold!

http://support.bbc.co.uk/support/history.html

And for the future:

http://support.bbc.co.uk/multicast/why.html

Bye Bye Colleagues!

It’s 4 weeks and counting until I leave the BBC.

Pastures new and all that.

Ashley Highfield on DRM and the BBC iPlayer – Redux.

Found via a link Jem Stone posted on this Guardian blog.

Keynote speech given at IEA Future Of Broadcasting Conference.

“Our BBC iPlayer service, launching on 27 July, offering the last seven days of the BBC’s TV programmes on–demand over the internet, has already helped all the players in the UK on–demand space. We established the rights frameworks with the relevant rights bodies such as PACT. We established the technology framework that enabled us to use a peer–to–peer service that kept our distribution costs down whilst keeping our rights holders happy, a framework that has been copied by both Sky and Channel 4. And by working closely with the internet service providers like Carphone Warehouse and Virgin Media, we believe the BBC iPlayer will drive new broadband take–up, and demand for higher connection speeds. Market impact? Yes – a positive one!

BBC iPlayer is a service for everyone in the UK. The BBC earns over £500m from the international exploitation of its content, every penny of which goes back into making better programmes for the British public. We therefore needed to ensure, through the use of digital rights management, DRM, that our programmes could be viewed, in high quality, in the UK, for free, but not get instantly distributed around the world and undermine our international licensing and syndication deals.

DRM is not popular, but having it means the difference between being able to afford to make Blue Planet or not. Protecting our content is not optional anyway. A third of our content is made by independent producers who insist we protect our content as their future depends on exploiting that content themselves outside our rights window.”