Sunday

BBC’s Interactive Media Player ( iMP ) – Limiting the reach of the Internet


BBC Interactive Media Player ( iMP ) is presently on trial through the UK to around 5,000 beta testers.

iMP is the BBC’s attempt to extend the delivery of its programming beyond that of traditional broadcast utilizing the Internet.

It allows UK residents to schedule, download, record and watch BBC content through a dedicated application the BBC have developed.

The technology which has been in over two years in the making and uses ‘ peer to peer ‘ methods to improve speeds for downloading content ( once the content is downloaded , it is then available for other people to download from you ) in a similar fashion to Napster and Kazaa.

This all sounds great until you dig a little deeper into the BBC’s blog and website.

The first clue that all is not well is contained in the FAQ about the service. In a pr-emptive move in order to justify this cost of development, they cite winning an award for technical innovation from the Royal Television Society - not exactly sure who made these guys my trusted source for what’s hot and not in the technology world.


Digging a little further we find that player through the use of Microsoft’s Digital Rights Management ( DRM ) technology to protect the content will at a stroke prevent users non Windows based technologies access to the content – that’s most MAC’s, Linux and a good proportion of mobile devices.



The BBC’s charter – to us the UK license payer is as follows

  • Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest
  • Audiences are at the heart of everything we do
  • We take pride in delivering quality and value for money
  • Creativity is the lifeblood of our organisation
  • We respect each other and celebrate our diversity so that everyone can give their best
  • We are one BBC: great things happen when we work together

It also states “ It does not have to serve the interests of advertisers, or produce a return for shareholders

The audience Auntie is obviously not at the heart of everything you do – Implementing Microsoft DRM does not fulfil this brief.

I would also argue it should produce a return for shareholders ( the UK public ) by looking for additional revenue streams to limit the increases we all incur through our license fees.


On the iMP player itself

The BBC is not a software development / technical solutions shop – it provides content and is bloody good at it.

Ashley Highfield, BBC Director of New Media & Technology is quoted as saying in a recent BBC press release "iMP could just be the iTunes for the broadcast industry –“ so Ashley, why not just use iTunes?

Combine this with Microsoft’s roadmap for Longhorn ( Vista as it was known then ) touting additional enhancements to the media space surly the Beeb could have spent our money and it’s resources in working on a solution in partnership ( after all great things happen when we work together right ? ) which fulfilled it’s needs for protecting content and also allowed access for more than a select few.

By taking the responsibility of developing the iplayer to deliver content to the UK population in a secure manner it is undertaking a massive responsibility – it is like the BBC deciding to adopt and actually build Blue Ray devices ( the new high definition DVD format ) without considering HDDVD ( a competing format ).

With no set standards still in place for both PC and mobile computing and the ever changing face of these access methods it is time to ditch this effort and partner with those who make this their job.

In a similar state of readiness is Joost from the makers of Kazza ( sound familiar ) who have just launched their take on TV delivery using the web. I am sure these technology hot shops of innovation and technology would welcome the backing of one of the largest and best content producers in the world.

1 comment:

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