Oct 14 2008

Erik Huggers, ex-Microsoft BBC Director of Future Media & Technology, has just announced that the BBC, in partnership with Adobe, are building a platform-neutral download client.

It will use the Adobe Integrated Runtime, or ‘AIR’.

Unfortunately, even though AIR is supposed to be platform-neutral, Adobe, in their wisdom have chosen again (as with flash) to prohibit the use of AIR on

…on any mobile device, set top box (STB), handheld, phone, web pad, tablet or Tablet PC (other than Windows XP Tablet PC Edition and its successors), game console, TV, DVD player, media center (other than Windows XP Media Center Edition and its successors), electronic billboard or other digital signage, internet appliance or other internet-connected device, PDA, medical device, ATM, telematic device, gaming machine, home automation system, kiosk, remote control device, or any other consumer electronics device, operator-based mobile, cable, satellite, or television system or other closed system device.

Erik goes on to say:

Whatever platform you use, you’ll now be able to download TV programmes from the BBC to watch later – on the train, in the garden, or wherever you like.

Given our obligations to rights-holders and the BBC Trust, these programmes are protected with DRM, but in a way that shouldn’t affect your enjoyment of our programmes, whatever platform you’ve chosen.

So how can anyone watch any of this BBC digital restrictions management TV output on a Linux set-top box or converted games console? I run Linux/Freevo on an old Xbox at home and I’m sure others use XBMC on their set-top boxes or just run plain Linux on a handheld, or tablet PC. None of these can legally run AIR. So I can say, YES, this will, in a rather large way, affect the enjoyment of the BBC’s programmes.

BBC: Why use AIR when it basically has such a blatant pro-Microsoft bias? Will the BBC not put pressure on Adobe to remove these unhelpful restrictions?

And what about the BBC’s obligations to license payers?

I wonder if Apple will be putting AIR on the iPhone?

I also wonder if Adobe will help the free/open source software community with documentation on their proprietary RTMP protocol (used by the BBC on their flash based iPlayer) so that the flash version can be watched without having to use closed-source proprietary tools such as Adobe’s flash player or AIR?

We shouldn’t really have to simulate an iPhone just to be able to watch lower-quality BBC TV programmes.


  • On October 14th, 2008, Strawp said:

    I have AIR running under Ubuntu, but yeah – they still don\’t seem to have realised that DRM is a complete dead-end.

    • On October 14th, 2008, linuxcentre said:

      @strawp, it does support Linux/intel but it is what they *allow* you to run it on which is the problem here. Agreed, DRM, is just a waste of time and money – I liked the BBC backstage post today which linked to: http://xkcd.com/488/ 🙂

      • On October 14th, 2008, Strawp said:

        Yep, as always XKCD summarising complex tech issues into a few concise and amusing sentences.

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