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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 11:00 GMT 12:00 UK
BBC to hear open source concerns
The iPlayer will only work with Microsoft Windows at launch
Calls to make the BBC's on demand TV service work on all computer operating systems are to get a fresh look.

The BBC Trust has offered to meet with open source advocates who argue that the corporation has a duty to make the download service platform agnostic.

When the BBC iPlayer, as it is known, launches on 27 July it will only work with PCs running Microsoft Windows XP.

But the BBC has said it does intend to allow access to its content from computers with other operating systems.

Speaking at the launch of the service, director of Future Media and Technology at the BBC Ashley Highfield said: "I am fundamentally committed to universality, to getting the BBC iPlayer to everyone in the UK who pays their licence fee."

"This is the approach we have always taken but we have always started with the platform that reaches the most number of people and then rolled it out from there."

A version for Apple Macs could be available in autumn, with versions for Window's Vista and mobile devices to follow, he said.

Public review

The BBC's governing body has agreed to meet with representatives of the Open Source Consortium (OSC).

In January this year, the OSC made complaints to the BBC Trust, the former Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and broadcast regulator Ofcom.

iPlayer will allow viewers to catch up on TV programmes for seven days
Some TV series can be downloaded and stored for 30 days
Viewers will be able to watch shows streamed live over the internet
Users will not be able to download programmes from other broadcasters
Classical recordings and book-readings are excluded from iPlayer

At the time Ofcom was conducting a Market Impact Assessment as part of the Trust's Public Value Test for the iPlayer.

The OSC argued that the iPlayer would force people to use and purchase Microsoft products, giving the software company an unfair and uncompetitive advantage.

Although the group heard back from both Ofcom and the DTI, the BBC Trust remained silent on the issue.

"We never heard back from the BBC Trust," said Mark Taylor, president of OSC.

In April, the iPlayer was given final approval by the Trust following an extensive public consultation. The OSC did not make a formal submission to this, the Trust says.

A condition of approval was that "platform neutrality be achieved as soon as possible" with reviews every six months.

Technical help

However, in June, the OSC threatened to make a complaint to the European Commission. At present, no formal complaint has been lodged, although the OSC has taken legal advice, it says.

iPlayer screengrab
Operating system: Windows XP SP2
Browser: Internet explorer 6.0 or above
Media Player: Windows Media Player 10 or above
Net connection: Broadband

Now, following a meeting between the OSC and Ofcom, the BBC Trust has invited the advocacy group to discuss their concerns.

"This is not about beating the BBC around the head - we want to sit down with them and help," said Mr Taylor.

"I think that's in the BBC's interests and I hope the Trust sees it that way."

Mr Taylor said there are "major players" within the open source community willing to commit engineering resources to make sure the iPlayer works on different operating systems.

He also said that the solution could include Digital rights Management (DRM) technology, which in the present iPlayer deletes programmes 30 days after download.

"This is not about whining and it's not about open source hippies pointing fingers. This is an issue and we are prepared to help with that," he said.

BBC iPlayer promotional video

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