The BBC launched its much anticipated iPlayer yesterday, which it describes like this:
The BBC is launching a new easy-to-use service that lets you access television programmes via your PC. Initially, BBC iPlayer is offering "seven-day catch-up television" – meaning that BBC TV programmes can be downloaded for free up to a week after transmission.It's the kind of thing which I would be very excited about if I were still in the UK. Being in the USA now, however, it feels like a damp squib. It is just the kind of thing that could be very exciting for British expats like us who so miss the ready access to BBC TV we once took for granted. There appear to be no indications, though, of any plans to release the player for expats. On Ask Bruce, they explain:
The programmes will be free for UK licence fee payers, at high quality and with no advertising. Once you have downloaded a programme to your computer you have 30 days within which to start watching and seven days to finish watching it.
Programmes will only be available to users within the UK for two reasons:I think the points are bogus. The first simply begs the question. Many British expats, including me, would happily pay our UK TV licence to get access to the player. There are many online TV streaming set-ups that work on this kind of basis, like Willow TV for the cricket, which simply lock out non-subscribers. This point also covers the copyright issue too -- you simply get the copyright coverage for British subscribers wherever they are based.
* the service is funded by UK TV licence payers
* copyright is only cleared for use within the UK for seven days after the first broadcast
Where there has been upset about the new iPlayer, it has tended to come mainly from those who object to the fact that it only works, at this stage, for PC users. AKMA, a dedicated Mac user, for example, is furious about it and he points to an article called BBC Corrupted. I understand their points but think they are overreacting. The following, for example, misses the point:
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 reason people can't access this content internationally is not because of some deal with Microsoft, but because the decision has been made to block all non-British IP addresses. Moreover, it is clear that the BBC are planning to release the content to Mac users and others in due course, so I wouldn't be inclined to be too concerned. Again, other online TV streaming is often limited to Windows Media Player, and with no plans to make changes.
But one of the frustrating things about the decision not to release the iPlayer to international users is that it only encourages the illicit downloading of materials, which many users would happily pay for if the BBC would give them a chance.