[ubuntu-uk] BBC and open formats??

Andy stude.list at googlemail.com
Thu Nov 2 12:45:30 GMT 2006

On 02/11/06, alan c <aeclist at candt.waitrose.com> wrote:
> Something I heard at LinuxWorld recently suggested to me bbc were
> moving towards more open formats.
> However, this comments implies otherwise. Anyone know anything?
Its funny you should mention this, I have contacted the BBC over their
use of RealMedia and ActiveX, seems they ignored me several times, I
made a complaint via their website, it appears they actually answer

I was given a link to download.com with about 500 programs related to
activeX and was told to install it, (which one? does ActiveX work on
Ubuntu, I told them I used Ubuntu grr).

I was told:
'As a result, you and other users have asked that we consider
supporting other software.  The issue faced by the BBC is that we must
pay considerable costs for the licensing of any software.  Increasing
the number of software applications means an increased cost to license
fee payers.' (from info at bbc.co.uk)

Oddly I thought you could get software to stream ogg vorbis for free,
I am almost sure that you can. The BBC are now lying to me in response
to my complaints, despicable!

However do not despair about the use of non free formats for the BBC
do offer more than realplayer:
'we are currently offering the content of our 'Digital Only' radio
channels on both Real and Windows Media Player' (from info at bbc.co.uk)
oh, Windows Media is non-free? well they completely ignored what I was
asking then didn't they. Why would they think I wanted a different
proprietary format, these people really are stupid!
(so yes they are using windows media player as you mentioned)

and my favourite line:
'This e-mail (and any attachments) is confidential' (from info at bbc.co.uk)
I always find this amusing, if this email is confidential why is it
sent unencrypted? does the BBC always send confidential information in
a form that anyone can read?
(yes I know its an auto-added footer, but such footers are laughable).

This email contained extracts from an email I received from the BBC.
They may be protected by copyright.
I consider my use of these quotes as 'review' and 'criticism' and as
such my use is permitted by the UK copyright act Section 30 [0]

I have already filed a second complaint with the BBC as there first
answer was not satisfactory. The proper procedure is to inform the
person who wrote the response, but my reply was bounced back with the
message, 'we don't accept email complaints', so I submitted it via
their website. Apparently the next step is to refer it to 'senior
management', so I guess that's my only option if the response I get
this time is still unacceptable.

I might just write to my MP, but unfortunately there isn't an election
around the corner so it will probably be ignored.

Just found some more info on BBC site, not sure if these actions
constitute a breech of 'fair trading guidelines',
from the BBC website:
'A fair trading complaint is a complaint about the way the BBC has
interacted with commercial markets or conducted its commercial
Seems both Microsoft and RealMedia are commercial entities aren't they
interfering with the commercial market?
I will look into that further when I get the time.

If only I was a lawyer I might understand all this, legal acts are so
hard to read, and I don't have a clue whether this falls under Ofcom's
Any lawyers on this list, any chance of bringing legal action against the BBC?
Who am I actually meant to be complaining to? I have contacted the
BBC, who have lied to me in response, second complaint is awaiting
response, Do I need to write to my MP, some other government minister,
or Ofcom?

Tried reading the BBC's constitution thing, might hard to read, didn't
understand half of it.

I certainly feel the BBC's actions are highly anti-competitive in the
software market, and considering that they are funded in part by me I
am appalled at this. Unfortunately market forces don't apply here, if
I go to the BBC's competition I still have to pay the BBC (required by
law), insane don't you think?

I urge everyone reading this to file an official complaint on:
DO NOT use 'send a complaint' or 'make a suggestion' they ignore
those, they will actually reply to a complaint. (if they don't it will
make there quarterly statistics interesting won't it).

Maybe we should add 'getting the BBC to use an open format' to our
list of things to do.

Any campaign groups that will be able to help, I subscribed to the FSF
Europe list, maybe I should post to that (or is cross posting like
this frowned upon?)

Sorry for the very long email.

- Andy

[0] http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1988/Ukpga_19880048_en_4.htm#mdiv30
[1] http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/contactus/fair_trading.shtml

DRM: Digital Restrictions Management -- learn about the dangers at

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