Open source fighting BBC in political war

The issue is whether public funds should be used to give Microsoft Windows Vista a proprietary advantage in viewing BBC content.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

The struggle between open source and the BBC has become a political struggle, one that has turned open source Tory.

With the BBC just one step removed from final approval of a Windows-based Video on Demand service, paid for with ratepayer money, the Open Source Consortium is mounting a counter-attack. And if the OSC is right, the beneficiaries are bound to be the Conservative Party, also known as the Tories.

The issue, says the OSC, is whether public funds should be used to give Microsoft Windows Vista a proprietary advantage in viewing BBC content. When BBC Radio signed a similar deal with Real Networks, covering radio broadcasts, there was barely a peep.

But the stakes are higher now. By requiring an up-to-date version of Windows to get a service they paid for with license fees (Americans would call these a tax), the OSC says a line has been crossed.

Has it?

It's no longer true that the BBC is the only game in town for TV viewers. The market can easily sort this out, and if the new service fails to gain viewers that will become known very quickly. At which point Vista has a big black eye and rival broadcasters like ITV have a big opportunity.

One would think that the more technology choices offered, the higher the ratings, and the higher the ratings, the greater the success, even for a government-funded operation.

With Conservatives (and rival broadcasters) looking to cut a host of BBC services should they take power, including its Web site, risking all in the hope an American will come through for them may not be in the Labour government's best political interest.


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