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Open Post: Autumn 2011

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Ian McDonald Ian McDonald | 11:40 UK time, Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Middle-aged man standing in front of

Ronnie Barker as Albert Arkwright in "Open All Hours"

It’s time for another in the series of open posts.

So what can you comment about on this post?

Everything covered on BBC Internet blog and more – anything you want to discuss or ask about the online activities of the domestic, public service BBC. And some issues are still being discussed, the iPlayer for PS3, BBC Homepage and the DSat7 migration, so while you can talk about these I’d prefer you to talk about them on posts which are still open.

Constructive relevant comments are welcome. Sometimes Open Posts succeed in finding problems and raising them with the right people – for example the correct channeling of complaints regarding blogs. Open Posts are a chance to me to hear what you'd like more or less of on the internet blog. But this isn't a messageboard - a place for freeranging discussion about absolutely everything the BBC does (for that, try the Points of View message boards).

The complaints site, moderation appeals process, and iPlayer help site are useful if you have a complaint, a blocked post you want reversed, or a problem with iPlayer. If you've tried those routes and there's a problem with the routes (rather than the response you got) then please say.

I can't actually descend from my airship, kidnap BBC executives, and force them to blog or comment. I do commit to try to answer your questions. If lots of you ask, I can let folk inside the BBC know that the audience are clamouring for them to blog and comment. It is unlikely that I'll be able to pre-announce something, or to release statistics on request, but it is good to know the demand.

There are a couple of things you could do to help me:

  • If you are want to cite a BBC statement or commitment, please say what you're referring to, with a link if possible. This saves time, and can resolve things if there's been a misunderstanding.
  • Finally, it will help me if you try to keep separate topics in separate comments. If I can say to an someone within the BBC "Comments #3 and #92" are for you, that makes it easier to get an answer than if I have to split up an edit comments.

Thanks, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say.


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  • Comment number 101.


    Try www.bbc.co.uk/gel

    Re-97 Some of the changes are what we have been after for some time, such as rating and sorting. It works on Yahoo! Answers for example, where simple thumbs-up thumbs-down allows others to weight the comments according to what others think about them.

    Surely the ongoing feedback on the new homepage, while not exactly complimentary, does offer a large group of users, some of them very expert, who have been provoked out of their apathy into giving a whole raft of ideas as to what works and what doesn't. The insults and dark threats and feelings of betrayal, while entertaining, should be seen as the ore out of which gold is extracted.

    Could these thoughts be taken on, analysed, and used to update GEL prior to it being rolled out throughout the whole site? .

  • Comment number 102.

    Russ - BBC_Five is not a BBC spokesperson. We are investigating.


  • Comment number 103.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 104.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 105.

    @Alix (#52: iPlayer on PS3 buffering):

    Thanks for your comment (and sorry for not getting back to you earlier) but as mentioned in the blog post, because there is already an existing blog post about iPlayer on PS3, it's off-topic here. I hope you find the advice there useful.

  • Comment number 106.

    @Sue_Aitch, regarding the postcode on the complaints website (#55, #88):

    Audience Services say the postcode is correct for the service and is not the same as that for a physical building.

    Jon Jacob from the BBC's Digital Communications team has amended the MediaCityUK addresses on the About The BBC website to say Salford rather than Manchester.

  • Comment number 107.

    When will there be another Blog about the BBC Hompage as promised by Mr Thornett?

  • Comment number 108.


    Thanks for your comment. I'm not sure that James actually said that - as they say on Wikipedia, citation required. In general, we are looking forward to more posts about the home page, although they're not close enough for me to say when or by whom.

  • Comment number 109.

    On this Blog http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcinternet/2011/12/bbc_homepage_your_feedback_2.html#jump_more
    @1273 James said "I hope we can update everyone on our plans in the New Year".
    I was just politely reminding you all that we are in the new year or should we expect a update in December?

  • Comment number 110.

    Ahah. Thanks for looking it up. Right now, I'm afraid I can't say any more than what I said in #108.

  • Comment number 111.

    @Eponymous Cowherd (#2, #65, &c):

    I know you've commented on his post, but in case others are interested, David Madden has blogged about the iPlayer on Android.

  • Comment number 112.

    @Piet Boon (#9) & Chris Cornwall (#3):

    The only reference to full-screen is a very small button on the desktop live TV mock-up.

    Sorry, but that's not the same as:

    1. FULL SCREEN Live TV as promised YEARS ago

  • Comment number 113.

    @Russ (#96):

    The plan is to move the BBC Blogs to iSite this year. There will be a blog post about this soon.

  • Comment number 114.

    So that will mean the 1000 character comment limit with no formatting and no user profiles. Someone really does want to wreck the system don't they?


  • Comment number 115.

    @Alex Cockell (#33-35):

    This blog post isn't a substitute for the complaints process, and you will have received a response to your complaint.

    Because it might be of wider interest, here is the BBC iPlayer support team's response to complaints about the loss of BBC iPlayer Desktop on Linux:

    The BBC has chosen Adobe Air to deliver BBC iPlayer to personal
    computers as this software protects the interests of our rights holders
    which is essential in order for us to be able to make content available
    for download.

    Unfortunately, Adobe recently made the decision to no longer support
    Air for Linux operating systems. Linux users can, however, continue to
    download programmes in the WMV format and they can also stream
    programmes directly from BBC iPlayer as Adobe's Flash Player continues
    to support Linux.

    We apologise for not giving advance warning on the changes made and for
    any inconvenience caused.

  • Comment number 116.

    Just a couple of questions.

    First, I have been watching the moderation of this blog and of the late BBC Hollyoaks Homepage blog and have to say that you have managed to elevate 'stonewalling' to almost artistic heights. Kudos on stifiling discussion and frustrating readers - well done. But one wonders how, in what advertises itself as an 'open post,' anything can be 'off topic.' Or do you not really mean it, like when you say our opinions matter to the BBC?

    Which brings me to question number two. Before Christmas we saw two blogs regarding the ghastly new Homepage receive a staggering number of posts (mostly negative) which were then closed down. Vague comments were made about another blog (#108 - #110) but we are now deep into January and nothing has appeared. Given the removal of access to the survey from the dreadful new Homepage (the results of which I would be fascinated to see, though am doubtful they wil ever see the light of day), will users be given the opportunity to continue to respond directly or will we continue to be fobbed off with the circular complaints proceedure?

  • Comment number 117.


    That's one question answered, why not offer the service?

    Now how about the rest of my points in #2

  • Comment number 118.

    ***"The BBC has chosen Adobe Air to deliver BBC iPlayer to personal
    computers as this software protects the interests of our rights holders
    which is essential in order for us to be able to make content available
    for download."***

    So we finally have confirmation of what many have known all along and underlines the point I was making on the iPlayer streaming blog (in discussion with Alex). While there are far better ways of delivering iPlayer content to mobile (as demonstrated by BeebPlayer and MyPlayer), there is absolutely no point in the BBC pursuing these as the "rights holders" will not permit their content to be delivered over them.

    The thing I really don't "get", is the mindset of these "rights holders". How is forcing the BBC into providing a sub-standard service going to protect their "interests"? It controls access to fairly low quality copies of original content that has previously been broadcast in unprotected full HD. Talk about slamming the stable door after the horse has bolted!!

    Incidentally, I have been trialling NetFlix on Android and must say that I'm pretty impressed. The actual UI is poor compared to iPlayer, but once you begin viewing the experience is flawless. Pin sharp picture, plays end-to-end without crashing and with the sound in synch. It also resumes where you left off if interrupted by a call.

    It also doesn't rely on Flash and runs on low-end handsets.

    If NetFlix can do this, and keep the "rights holders" happy, why can't the BBC? I suspect its because NetFlix content is, essentially "back catalogue" stuff that the "rights holders" aren't so twitchy about.

  • Comment number 119.

    @Bede1952 (#116):

    Thanks for joining the open post. I did explain what I meant by "open" in this context in the blog post.

    You can always feed back or complain about any BBC service.

  • Comment number 120.

    @Eponymous (#118):

    So we finally have confirmation ...
    BBC Staff have posted on the BBC Internet Blog about DRM and content protection before.

    Folk who are interested in the background to this might want to take a look at Ian Hunter on BBC iPlayer content protection or Najma Rajah's post about overall approach, both from 2010.

  • Comment number 121.

    #117 correction ....


    That's one question answered, why not offer the service then (Full screen live TV on the Download Manager) ?

    Now how about the rest of my points in #3

  • Comment number 122.

    @120 Ian McDonald:

    Yes, there has been a lot of discourse about DRM and content protection, but this makes it clear that it isn't the BBC that is forcing the issue regarding which formats can be used on which platform.

    It is interesting that the same point keeps being made (in comments), however. If you block access, to content (as in the case of XBMC) or provide a poor experience (Android iPlayer), then people will turn to more nefarious means to obtain content.

    The actions of these "rights holders" is actually providing a market for the "pirates". Its a bit like prohibition era USA. If you don't provide (usable) legitimate access to a desirable product or service, the criminals will move in to fill the gap.

  • Comment number 123.

    @ Chris Cornwall (#3)

    I work in BBC Audience Services and we oversee the iPlayer Support Service.

    The BBC iPlayer support service has several objectives with the most important being to spot any issues with the service so this can be fed back, investigated and resolved as quickly as possible.

    Communicating known issues to our users is essential, so the team update the help site so it’s helpful and relevant. This can mean updating or creating FAQs several times a day.

    In addition to this, the support team need to respond to the contacts we receive and to report comments and feedback to the right teams that deliver BBC iPlayer. The team also ensures information on new releases and features are added to the help site.

    Every morning, the support team will sift through every single contact that we’ve received in the previous 24 hours. Any reports that indicate there could be a potential fault with BBC iPlayer, whether it’s an issue with a particular programme or with another aspect of BBC iPlayer, gets escalated for further investigation. The team will continue this process regularly throughout the day and once an issue has been escalated will update the help site accordingly.

    As BBC iPlayer is complex and as we get such a variety or enquiries, we cannot always offer a quick response as internal guidance may be required with specific cases and investigations can take time especially when working with external partners but when we can, we’ll try to respond swiftly. With some cases we may not be able investigate until we receive multiple contacts on the same issue.

    We really value your feedback, especially if you think you’ve found a fault with the service that’s not listed on the help site and if on occasion we don’t respond before a programme has expired from BBC iPlayer; be assured that the issue would have been reported and escalated when appropriate.

    With the Sony Blu-Ray issue, please report it to Sony support in the first instance to ensure that you have the correct firmware or to check whether a recent update coincides to when the problem started.

    If you are still experiencing problems and the device is certified to use BBC iPlayer (It would be listed on our ‘where to get' help pages), then let our contact centre know, who will log the issue.


    We can’t investigate every individual issue that is reported but we will investigate the issue when we receive multiple similar contact

  • Comment number 124.

    @Markle77 (#57) asking about using BBC iPlayer on Android over 3G:

    As Daniel Danker blogged last year, streaming on the Android BBC iPlayer has required Wi-Fi since the app launched.

    As David Madden outlined in his blog post, 3G on BBC iPlayer on Android will be turned on with the next release.

    If your Android browser BBC iPlayer doesn't work over wi-fi, please use BBC iPlayer help to report the bug, so that Steven Derrick's team can look into it.

  • Comment number 125.

    @Alex Cockell (#33-35) and Ian (#115)

    After further checks, we need to clarify that our WMV files will not run on Linux. We regret the error. Linux users can continue to stream programmes from the browser version of BBC iPlayer.

    The BBC has chosen Adobe Air to deliver the iPlayer Desktop service to personal computers as this software, which can be used across various operating systems, offers us the best combination of features to securely maintain our download windows, which are necessary for editorial, legal, regulatory, financial and rights reasons if we are to make content available for download.

    Unfortunately, Adobe recently made the decision to no longer support Air for Linux operating systems. Linux users can, however, continue to stream programmes directly from the browser version of BBC iPlayer as Adobe Flash Player, which is the software required to stream BBC iPlayer content, continues to support Linux.

    We apologise for not giving advance warning on the changes made and for any inconvenience caused.

  • Comment number 126.


    BR Player is certified, player has up-to-date software and has been escalated to Sony.

    Could there be a TV and BR connected devices tab added to the complex reporting process on the iPlayer site, this method of distribution is totally ignored currently in that process?

  • Comment number 127.

    @125 - Thanks Steven, for chiming in and clarifying that.

    As you're kinda beholden to Adobe's decision on this, may I suggest one line of enquiry you could possibly consider re streaming - which would then cover in the case that Adobe decide to suddenly EOL Flash Player on some platforms?

    Specifically, maybe offer an royalty-free and open API (or digitally-signed, but make it easy to request CAs, so that NDAs *wouldn't* have to be signed) into the iPlayer backend? This way - developers like DInk (behind XBMC) and others could develop iPlayer user agents where Adobe refuse to go? And they can do that in good faith?

    Just that I'm worried that in the future, Adobe could turn around and claim that is isn't in their interests to continue developing the Flash Player client for Linux - but this could easily apply to others. Means you're future-proofed as well.

    Thanks for confirming that, though. AIR was always a bitch to install on many distros, anyway. Just that on really low-power kit but with nice GPUs... H264/AAC video can hum when played on VLC or Totem... just needs a Gstreamer plugin...

  • Comment number 128.

    @125 - continued - Also - if you discuss this through with the rights-holders - you can also go some way towards assuaging the frustrations with Atom/Linux/NVIDIA kit - Adobe disabled accelerated rendering on Flash Player for Minux - means you have to chuck CPU at it. Whereas where you have a low-power CPU with a blisteringly-fast GPU (Intel Atom netbook+NVIDIA) running Linux - iPlayer streaming would then behave OK. Basic playout *kinda* works, but if you try searching through or finding a specific spot... video freezes. This is seen on Youtube as well - so it's common to Flash. Came in when Flash 11 went to gold release.

    And it means less chances of people having to get torrents so they can then get good playback response...

    And you have FOSS developers who could help you. All they need is a spec and an open API to code to...

  • Comment number 129.

    Has the Press Office published any iPlayer Press Packs since September?


  • Comment number 130.

    Hi Russ - BBC iPlayer press packs are now published on the BBC media centre site.

    You can find the latest one here.



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