Sunday, July 29, 2007

BBC and Microsoft: Best buddies in town

To watch BBC's video programming online, you need to install iPlayer which needs Microsoft Windows installed on your computer. As Defective by Design says, it is like dictating 'you must own a Sony TV set to watch BBC TV'.

There's more: you must also accept Microsoft-inspired Digital Rights Management (DRM) that the iPlayer imposes upon you.

I never knew watching news video online would require so much hassle. BBC's online media initiatives were supposed to be harbingers of things to come, setting up BBC as an innovation leader.

The BBC runs more than 500 excellent news sites. However, in this case, DefectivebyDesign argues that BBC's 'Microsoft-friendly' approach stems from the simple fact that important persons within the BBCorganization and the British Government are pretty close to Microsoft. The BBC's Director of New Media and Technology was openly sharing platform with Microsoft and touting DRM. Moreover, the man who is in charge of BBC Future Media & Technology, Eric Huggers earlier held a variety of senior posts at Microsoft.

It is no coincidence that Bill Gates has an honorary knighthood. Just the other day, I watched a detailed Bill Gates interview on BBC's tech program "Click Online", where the billionaire talked eloquent about bringing computing to the poor - he did not mention $ 3 Windows, plans to finish the OLPC, among other things. Which was fine but I was surprised that the interviewer did not ask any hard question, reducing the program to a good PR exercise for Microsoft.

DefectivebyDesign is running a campaign to pressure BBC to stop using the current 'pro-Microsoft' iPlayer. You can sign up here.

The BBC has considerable global reach. We should hope that it remains as objective in its tools selection as it is with its news.

Platform Agnostism is the way to go.

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