Archive for the ‘BBC iplayer’ Category

BBC and its rerun policy

Not sure why the BBC isn’t rerunning Banksy’s Alternativity this year. Also annoyed that it is not available to watch online. I am tempted to post it on Youtube just to get it back out there since it needs to be SEEN.

On the other hand, if the BBC programming folk are interested in a suggestion for a rerun: The Last Duel has my vote. It was first broadcast in 2008. The last broadcast was in 2010. They have been rerunning a lot of things, but this one has been missed. It’s based on Eric Jager’s book, The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.

BBC’s description of the programme is:

Drama-documentary telling the story of one of the last trials by battle to be fought in Europe, a tale of sex, brutality and political machination set in 14th century medieval France.

A knight, Sir Jean de Carrouges, accuses his former best friend, Jacques Le Gris, of raping his wife Marguerite. Unable to obtain justice from his feudal overlord, Carrouges appeals to the king for the ancient right to fight a duel to the death to find out God’s truth. There is much at stake. If Carrouges dies in the battle, Marguerite will also be burned to death as a liar.

This tense story, told from records of the day, is set against the backdrop of the 100 years war between England and France, 14th century attitudes towards women, crime and punishment and the political intrigues of the feudal system.

While I wouldn’t mind either being rerun, the Last Duel definitely has my vote.

As for Banksy’s Alternativity: I’m surprised he hasn’t posted it on Youtube. If Banksy or any of his minions see this and tell me it’s OK to post it, I will.

Yes, I do use the official BBC iPlayer site

for the most part, I prefer to use get_iplayer for video, but it has come to my attention that I use the official BBC iPlayer site quite a bit: mostly for radio.  I am more likely to livestream radio.  In fact, I pretty much use internet radio for all my radio reception.

That’s where I use the official iPlayer site the most.

Posted 22/01/2014 by lacithedog in BBC iplayer, get_iplayer, iplayer

Getting frustrated with Get_iplayer

OK, I tried copying the options from a version of get_iplayer that was working which was:

lame .\LAME\lame.exe
mplayer .\MPlayer\mplayer-svn-36348\mplayer.exe
atomicparsley .\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley.exe
output C:\Users\Michael\Desktop\iPlayer Recordings
flvstreamer .\RTMPDump\rtmpdump.exe
ffmpeg .\FFmpeg\ffmpeg-1.2-win32-static\bin\ffmpeg.exe
vlc .\VLC\vlc-2.0.6\vlc.exe
mmsnothread 1
nopurge 1

Yet this did not work and I am still getting these messages:

C:\Program Files (x86)\get_iplayer>get_iplayer –prefs-show
Options in ‘C:\Users\Michael/.get_iplayer/options’
mmsnothread = 1
lame = .\LAME\lame.exe
vlc = .\VLC\vlc-2.0.6\vlc.exe
ffmpeg = .\FFmpeg\ffmpeg-1.2-win32-static\bin\ffmpeg.exe
nopurge = 1
flvstreamer = .\RTMPDump\rtmpdump.exe
output = C:\Users\Michael\Desktop\iPlayer Recordings
mplayer = .\MPlayer\mplayer-svn-36348\mplayer.exe
atomicparsley = .\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley\AtomicParsley.exe

C:\Program Files (x86)\get_iplayer>get_iplayer –type=radio –pid=b03q59v9 –for
ce
get_iplayer v2.85, Copyright (C) 2008-2010 Phil Lewis
This program comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details use –warranty.
This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it under certain
conditions; use –conditions for details.

INFO: Episode-only pid detected
INFO: Trying pid: b03q59v9 using type: radio
INFO Trying to stream pid using type radio
INFO: pid not found in radio cache
INFO: Checking existence of default version
INFO: flashaacstd1,flashaaclow1 modes will be tried for version default
INFO: Trying flashaacstd1 mode to record radio: The Early Music Show – European
Union Baroque Orchestra
INFO: File name prefix = The_Early_Music_Show_-_European_Union_Baroque_Orchestra
_b03q59v9_default
WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade
INFO: skipping flashaacstd1 mode
INFO: Trying flashaaclow1 mode to record radio: The Early Music Show – European
Union Baroque Orchestra
INFO: File name prefix = The_Early_Music_Show_-_European_Union_Baroque_Orchestra
_b03q59v9_default
WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade
INFO: skipping flashaaclow1 mode
INFO: You may wish to try –modes=wma for version default
INFO: Note that wma mode is real-time only, and thus is generally only suitable
for recording live radio.
ERROR: Failed to record ‘The Early Music Show – European Union Baroque Orchestra
(b03q59v9)’

Next will be to try copying the working copy of the programme to the computer with the probelms.

Not so fast on the SWF URL change

I was on another of my computers and decided to try an experiment by recording a radio stream, which worked and confirmed I am using the latest version of RTMPdump.  Then, I decided to try to download a TV stream using iplayer to see if I would get the same error message.

I was able to download without problem.  Not sure of the reason for that.

Now, I need to try my other computer and see if I can still download using it.

Update:
I am on the computer where I originally had the problem, and it is still acting up.  The issue seems to be that RTMPdump is not being recognised, or accessed.  I have determined this by trying to download a radio stream.  I was told that I had the latest version of RTMPdump when I did this earlier.  Now, I am again getting the message.

I am not really keen on messing about with the path statement for a lot of reasons.

The solution seems to be to try and reinstall RTMPdump, but I think a good test for whether your system can download is to download a radio stream.

Further update:
The issue seems to be that I ran a registry cleaner and it erased something that allows RTMPdump to be recognised.  not sure I want to mess about with the detective work to fix this when I have other computers that can download this material.

Why I hate Microsoft and prefer Linux

SWF verification change at the Beeb?

Disclaimer: yes, I could use the official BBC iPlayer programme, but it isn’t as fun.  not to mention that the BBC shouldn’t be blocking open source software per its charter. Not to mention SWF verification doesn’t really work.

It seems that the Beeb has once again changed the SWF verification URL meaning that get_iplayer is acting up and I am receiving this error message:

WARNING: Your version of rtmpdump/flvstreamer does not support SWF Verification
WARNING: rtmpdump/flvstreamer 1.8 or later is required – please upgrade

This is nonsensical for several reasons: the major one being that there was no problem earlier in the day.  I am also using the latest update for all the components of get-iplayer.  On the other hand, the last time this happened, the Beeb had changed the SWF verification URL and there was the simple fix of:

get_iplayer –prefs-add –rtmp-tv-opts=”–swfVfy=http://www.bbc.co.uk/emp/releases/iplayer/revisions/617463_618125_4/617463_618125_4_emp.swf”

Yes, the issue is a changes SWF verification URL since I tried it in my browser and received a 404 error and then a “this content doesn’t seem to be working” error:

swfurl 404

Of course, the simple fix was provided by the good people who have been maintaining get_iplayer lately.  I did a search to try and locate a newer patch, but there are a few problems here which are:

1) I received an e-mail saying that get_iplayer forum digests were no longer being sent out.
2) I searched the get_iplayer forum and didn’t see a recent post on this (Latest was December 2013).
3) I couldn’t post to the get_iplayer Forum even though I was on the get_iplayer mailing list

I was hoping to receive the new swfvfy url patch from a get_iplayer list mailing, but that hasn’t happened.  I tried to login to the forum, but received a message asking me to supplicate the forum mods to join (even though I’ve been on the list for yonks).

In short,  I’ve done everything dinkypumpkin says to do in the “When SWF Verification Attacks” post and am reckoning the issue is a change in the SWF URL.  OTH, I haven’t seen anything in the get_iplayer forum to tell me there has been:

1) a change in the URL
2) a new patch issued
3) if I am the only person with this problem.

I’m not sitting around on my thumbs here and have been trying to find some way to learn the new SWF verification URL, but I think that may be covered by the Official Secrets Act (after all, BBC employees are government workers).  I should also add that I tried playing with the RTMPdump commands that are listed here: in particular:

−−swfVfy −W url
URL of the SWF player for this media. This option replaces all three of the −−swfUrl, −−swfhash, and −−swfsize options. When this option is used, the SWF player is retrieved from the specified URL and the hash and size are computed automatically. Also the information is cached in a .swfinfo file in the user’s home directory, so that it doesn’t need to be retrieved and recalculated every time rtmpdump is run. The .swfinfo file records the URL, the time it was fetched, the modification timestamp of the SWF file, its size, and its hash. By default, the cached info will be used for 30 days before re-checking.

Only to get more error messages about RTMPdump and that I am not using the correct URL.

I know that this will all pass, as it has in the past, but the problem is that this is yet another annoyance which will be overcome.  As I said in my disclaimer, SWF verification doesn’t work.

And it sure as hell doesn’t stop the pirates.

(Give up and allow for a PBS style donation licence fee system for those outside the UK, but that raises other issues with DRM).

What izzit?

By mistake, I pasted the following into a response and thought about leaving it:

b00bfmt4

A little hint by providing a QR code if you have any thoughts that this might be a password.

It’s more of a bleed through from my real blogging passion (that is not an optical effect in the centre).  I wasn’t sure what exactly a QR code was when I first saw one on an advert at a train station.  I thought it might be the work of one of those Banksy types who have tended to proliferate with work of varying quality–mostly crap.

I like this from the Wikipedia article on Banksy:

Banksy does not sell photos of street graffiti directly himself;[9][10]
however, art auctioneers have been known to attempt to sell his street
art on location and leave the problem of its removal in the hands of the
winning bidder.

Somebody say something about one being born every minute?

If you figure out what is going on here, you will find that my taste in art is a bit more traditional–although clever modern “art” is appreciated.

I do find Banksy to be quite clever–even if I can’t hang his work in my front room.

But would I really want to anyway?

BTW, don’t waste your time or freedom trying to use this as a password.  It is what it purports to be.

Nordic Noir

My wife was asking me about when the latest series of the Killing (aka Forbrydelsen, meaning The Crime) was going to appear on BBC Four.  Alas, that is yet to come, but the Radio Times has announced that more Nordic Noir will be hitting the airwaves soon.  The only one of these new series with a definite start date is the Bridge, which is coming to BBC4 on 21 April at 21:00.

On the other hand, the Radio Times mentions a few other series which have made it to the airwaves on both sides of the pond, Lilyhammer, which was put out by Netflix in the US and NRK in Norway, will show up sometime in the future on BBC4.  The plot line is somewhat hackneyed–Criminal gets put in witness protection, but in this case, he finds himself in a totally different culture.  Steven Van Zandt is basically rediong his role as Silvio Dante from the Sopranos.  The series is OK, but a bit of a stretch.  Jonseing Sopranos fans tend to like it though.

The Danish version of the Killing has not officially made it to the US, which is why I mention DRM here.  Also, its relevant since Lillyhammer was “broadcast” by Netflix over its internet streaming service.  Likewise, the US version of the Killing showed up on the US Cable channel AMC.  It was broadcast in the UK on Channel 4.  Although, I gave the US version a pass. Fans of the Danish series felt let down since the US series tried to make it a cliffhanger and not announce whodunit.

Of course, all the networks would prefer that you watch the version officially sanctioned for your locale.  That means people in the US should not have seen the Danish version of the Killing, or they caught it through the grey areas of distribution: buying another region’s DVDs or downloading from the BBC.  Although, the Killing is readily available in the bit-torrent underground, as I found whilst researching this piece.

Of course, buying another region’s DVDs is the best way for the studios to make their money, short of the BBC coming up with a scheme for non-UK residents to get a licence which doesn’t hit the UK licence holders.  Although, there is still the download underground, whether directly from the BBC or via bit-torrent.

It doesn’t take too long for a show to appear as a bit-torrent after it has been broadcast in the UK.  In fact, one episode of  BBC 2’s White Heat didn’t appear immediately after broadcast on BBC iPlayer.  I almost googled (or used a bit-torrent search engine) it to see if it was on bit torrent.  Although, I can come up with more reasons not to want to go the bit torrent route than to do it.

Amusingly enough, BBC world service radio is rebroadcast through Sirius/XM and Vermont Public Radio in the States, which makes me wonder why they aren’t blocking it to US IP addresses.  World Service TV is not available in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan.  I know it is rebroadcast via cable in the US on Xfinity (at least WDC). Although, I am not sure the situation in other US media markets.

Personally, I prefer to remain within the law rather than skirt it.  Although, I would feel much better if I could make a contribution to the BBC for all their material that I use.  But, I have no television reception meaning I can’t access the material short of satellite or cable–which I am not paying for! Radio reception in my area is poor, and I access that material through the internet while broadcast.  No “live” viewing–no licence necessary!

Somehow, I find DRM blocking the end user from accessing the material as being counterproductive.  The entire idea is to make sure that the rights holder makes money, but if it isn’t reaching as large an audience as possible–are they really making as much money as they could? And while the free market system talks about personal choice, the ultimate person who should be able to choose is the consumer–not the producer.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part IV)

At this point, I’m going to try to tie together the thoughts I’ve mentioned in the previous three posts to try and come up with a coherent whole.

1) The BBC is a public broadcasting service

The major problem with this one is who exactly is the public and who exactly funds it. The BBC has a split personality between the internal services and the World Service. Not to mention that Britons can be found throughout the world (ex-Pats)

2) How does one fund such a being?

Is it truly fair for the British people to be the only ones expected to pay for this service? Why can’t external users contribute as well? Do you need need to use TV Detector Vans?

3) Can the BBC management deal with reality?
I know one of the higher ups has also suggested charging for iPlayer use, but I can’t find the citation in my posts. On the other hand, it is mentioned quite a bit as a possibility

There are major  problems with requiring people to either have licences and use iPlayer–the main one being that most people have already paid the licence fee.  There is a small subset of people are able to get away without having a licence yet still sble to use the iPlayer service.

I could reinvent the wheel, but this is a very good post by Paul Sawers  on why people should pay the licence fee:
thenextweb.com/uk/2012/01/21/theres-no-i-in-iplayer-heres-why-the-tv-licence-fee-must-be-preserved-in-the-uk/

In fact, that is pretty much my position on why the fee should be paid.  I use the service and I want to contribute.

Paul did neglect that the licence fee is also supposed to be fair.  There are methods by which one can be exempted from paying the fee.  Not to mention, there are reduced fees and exemptions (e.g., a 50% reduction on the TV Licence fee if you’re blind/severely sight impaired and Second homes).  And you can’t just pay money to the BBC because you really like their programmes since that money is supposed to come from the licence fee. So, that rules out somebody paying MORE for the service than they have to–that drives the Beeb even nuttier than trying to get a licence for a non-existent address!

Ultimately,  The BBC is a British institution, paid for by the British Public.  It is responsive to its public (well, to some extent).  The British Public should respect it as much as it does government.

To quote Paul Sawers:

But unlike Virgin, Sky, Netflix and such like, nobody has a choice of whether they pay for a TV licence or not. You may never actively watch a BBC programme or visit its website, but you’re sure as hell paying for it if you want to stay on the right side of the law. Even for those that do enjoy BBC content, the ‘lack of choice’ element to the licence fee still gets some people riled.

But here’s the thing. If you were to give people a choice, many would choose not to pay for it and the BBC as we know it would crumble. However, it’s a public service, just as the NHS, police force and fire brigade are, and it should be preserved.

Nothing grates me more than when someone complains about having to pay taxes for services they never use. Speaking to Q magazine last year, superstar singer Adele said:

“I’m mortified to have to pay 50%! [While] I use the NHS, I can’t use public transport any more. Trains are always late, most state schools are shit, and I’ve gotta give you, like, four million quid – are you having a laugh? When I got my tax bill in from [the album] 19, I was ready to go and buy a gun and randomly open fire.”

There are way too many ‘I’ and ‘my’ references in there. So Adele is rich and doesn’t want to pay for things she doesn’t use? My heart bleeds. The scourge of individualism is growing, and this ‘pull the ladder up and screw the rest’ culture is such a bad omen for society. It’s indicative of a much deeper problem, where people care more about themselves than the success of ‘society’.

Just because the BBC deals in news, entertainment, information and education doesn’t make it any less vital for UK society than a health service. And just because YOU don’t see the value in it doesn’t mean we should scrap it.

And Paul is correct when he points out how little the licence costs in relation to other things.  If one considers that one can see a play, opera, ballet, film, and so on–especially a Covent Garden one as part of this service, it is a bargain.  Paul and I are in complete agreement when he says:

But the underlying philosophy (at the BBC) is a sound one – an ad-free public service broadcaster that EVERYONE pays for. That must be preserved, and the UK would be much worse off without it.

Now, my proposal is to stop with the threats and get down to what the BBC is supposed to do: educate. Educate the public as to what an important institution the BBC is to British Culture. Point out that cooperation is what makes Britain work.

Even better yet, show what it’s like in other countries where Public Broadcasting is whining about the lack of support. And the rampant commercialism which one sees in US broadcasting (even the public sector).

As Paul says, But over and above all this, the BBC offers everyone a little respite from the commercially-driven media that permeates every nook and cranny around the world. In the UK, the BBC is an ad-free zone, and it must remain so.

I couldn’t agree more.

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part III)

Once again, to recap, Three of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In the first of these two posts, we discuss how the BBC is truly public broadcasting on a global scale supported by public funding. In the Second, we deal with the official attitude of BBC management to this reality, which is to try and deny it.  In this one, we are going to talk about a more positive method to try to get public support.

So, while the BBC says it is cash strapped, they have a far larger budget than US Public Broadcasting.  In fact, I believe that the percentage of people who support the BBC through licence fees is far better than support US Public Broadcasting through the extort-a-thon pledge drives.  Despite this, the BBC believes it makes sense to have the TV licence system brow beat the British Public into paying for the service.

Maybe she would get more respect if we just started calling her "Auntie"!

I could get into the TV detector vans, but I will leave that to Peter.  In fact, Peter’s blog does a pretty good job of getting into the excesses and silliness of the TV licensing system.

BUT, I support the licensing system, not the method by which it tries to get people to support it.

The BBC is a British institution.  I would say it is probably more important than the monarchy, which–given that I am a Royalist–is saying a lot about how important the BBC is to British Culture.  As I said in another post, the fact that “Captain UKIP” is not an ardent supporter of the Beeb makes me truly question how much he supports the UK and its culture.  But, I have my opinions about the UKIP as well and they are not good, but that’s not germane to this post.

The BBC should emphasise how much of a British Institution it is and was intended to be.  It is the public face of Britain, which is one of the many problems it has when it tries to block its material from anyone, or seem authoritiarian in getting people to pay their licence fees..

Of course, I think the BBC should be willing to follow one point in the US Public Broadcasting paradigm, which is to accept the support of its public.  And since that public is worldwide, they should accept it from the world–Not just Britain.  But, they also shouldn’t have to resort to extort-a-thons either.

Of course, there are other ways that the BBC could get more funds besides solely relying upon licence fees.  One of the categories of these posts is the BBC archives.  This is for good reason, how much material isn’t released on DVD for various reasons?  For example, the BBC has this institutional hate for the Goodies and have been pretty bad about releasing their material on DVD.  That’s a topic I’ve covered before.

Of course, BBC archival policies have led to the loss of some classic TV.  I’ve mentioned how the BBC destroyed some classic programmes, which can be researched at these sites:

Fortunately, not everyone was as short sited about this material, but it didn’t survive through the efforts of the BBC.  Can the BBC release things such as “Take Three Girls”, “The Reivers”, and so on, or are they lost forever? Is that a lost revenue stream for them?

The licence resister's nightmare, after a few visits from the TV Detector van, these chappies blow their door down and arrest them for not having a TV licence!

If the major problem to this is that there are right’s holders in other countries which would block the iPlayer downloads, then these other rights holders should start trying to make the material more widely available.  Direct TV in the US has “ethnic” packages, why not ptovide British TV to US audiences (other than some of the other digital rights issues involved)?  Isn’t it the remit of the BBC to make sure this material is as widely seen as is possible? I know that the BBC has satellite coverage for most of the world.

The problem with making people pay for iPlayer material is that some of them have already paid the licence fee, but what about paying for accessing some of the archival material (e.g., the BBC 4 Talk Collection)?  Also, why not try to get the material (such as the Goodies) out officially, rather than the bootleg versions one can find on the internet?

Also, what about the people who use iPlayer material, but don’t jhave a licence?  I know that BBC management would like to get them to pay their fair share, which is the topic of the next post.

Does the BBC need the money or not?  What is the best way to try and collect it?

See also:

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part II)

I want to reiterate some things I mentioned in Part I of this:

Two of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In Ye Olden Dayes, the BBC Motto was “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”.  I don’t think it has changed.

In this post, we deal with the topic of funding the BBC, in particular the licence fee. The BBC’s Website says that one does not need a licence if “you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast”:

That’s also reiterated on Peter’s blog, and confirmed by someone at the BBC. Who said:

“I’m afraid you can’t pay a TV licence if you live outside the UK, but you shouldn’t be able to access the iPlayer either so I am intrigued!

Unfortunately, due to the miracle of the Internet, you can get this material from anywhere in the world. So, not only does  one who access the BBC material from outside they UK not have to pay a licence fee, they won’t take your money.

Additionally, blocking movement in the modern world, especially via internet is pretty hard.  Government can track it to some extent, but it is hard to block.  Which should fit into the BBC’s mission if you ask me, but some at the Beeb officially disagree (some unofficially admit that I am correct–more about that in a later post) as the comment above points out.

I pointed out to my contact at the Beeb that it depends on which iPlayer material one is talking about–radio is open to non-UK residents. In fact, my internet radio is mostly BBC, with the exception of Classic FM.  Classic FM is less tetchy about who listens as well, only requiring one to input a British Post Code to access it!

If even that!

But, Televised material. Well, that is another topic. It is indeed available to users outside the UK. I’d prefer not to say  of accessing it since the BBC would upset quite a few people in the UK if they tried shutting it down.  In fact, the boffins have tried shutting down the method that one can access BBC material when outside the UK, which was an experiment that lasted less than a day!  Or even a few hours at that matter.

In old fashioned broadcasting terms, the way someone is able to access this material roughly the equivalent of not being able to block TV/radio signals from going where they will. It can be done, but you also risk blocking the signal of your internal audience (i.e., those who are paying their licence fees).  Although, there ia another BBC purpose which they run afoul of if they try to keep people from outside the UK accessing the iPlayer material:  Delivering to the public the benefit of emerging communications technologies and services.

So,  trying to block access violates three public purposes as set out in the BBC’s Royal Charter mentioned above.  It is totally counterproductive for the BBC’s mission statement to block access to its material.

Nope, no one living here--I guess I can't get a Television Licence!

Not to mention, they end up with egg on their faces when it comes out that they tried something as silly as that.  That’s what China does, not Britain!

The reason I contacted the BBC is because I blog about UK TV licensing. One of my pro-licensing posts was commented upon by Peter who runs the blogspot blog on TV licensing. It seems there are those within the UK who don’t want to pay their fair share.

Unlike our TV license resisting crowd,There are people who are willing to pony up since I am using the service. I mentioned that I was thinking of using the address to apply for a licence to see what would happen:

21 Framley Road
Effing Sodbury TL3 8RZ

TL3 8RZ being the Post Code used in a BBC Weather advert, which is one of my high ranking blog posts.  Of course, I could use the street in the weather advert

Of course, an alternative address is

1 Buckingham Palace Road
London SW1A 1AA

It would be amusing to see the licensing folks face when they need to contact that one!

I do have a couple of Scottish and UK Addresses given I have property there, but  the Scottish ones are undeveloped land (oops, property is not occupied).  I’d love to see the face on the TV Detector van crew if they decided to bust that property!  The problem with using a IK address is that you need to have someone who is willing to field any mail.

In fact, the BBC website. linked to my Anna Nicole The Opera post  since I say:

I’m not sure I would want to pay Covent Garden prices to see this, but it will definitely be worth the TV Licence fees on the BBC!

Thank you, Auntie! yer darn tootin’ I added it to my iPlayer playlist!

If one considers, that the cost of a licence is only 149.50, that is less than a good ticket to see a Covent Garden production.  And you don’t feel too bad if you walk out after 15 minutes!

Unlike US Public Broadcasting, who are willing to take the money since they know they need it–The BBC are turning people away!  Maybe they have too large a budget that they can avoid all the ways to make money that they do.

Of course, as Peter who runs the blogspot site, will happily tell me, as long as one is not watching the material when it’s being broadcast (sort of difficult), one doesn’t need a licence–even within the UK.  He probably thinks that this post is a bit mad as well–why support the BBC if you don’t absolutely HAVE to (which is the topic of Part III).

Like it or not, the BBC is not just a UK broadcasting service, its mission is to broadcast to the world.  In a way, it is part of the heritage of Empire that people from outside the UK will feel an affinity for it, The BBC should be thankful when the world is willing to give back to them.

Of course, there is a schizophrenia in the BBC institution between the World Service and Internal BBC.  I believe at one time, the World Service was under the auspices of the Foreign Office (now, it’s the World Service Trust, as opposed to the BBC Trust).  And while Nations may speak unto Nation, I don’t think that Internal and Externals Services talk unto each other.  Additionally, I don’t think that the internal services realise that they also serve the ex-pat community and Brits abroad on holiday–whether they like it or not.

Perhaps, the internal services should do a bit more market research on their audience–and accept comments from ALL their users, not just UK residents.

See also:

P.S. I also advocate the use of region free DVD and Blu-ray players.

This is where it gets interesting

If you have access to the Internet, then you can receive BBC Television whilst it is being broadcast from anywhere in the world (despite what the BBC, or TV Licence Resisters such as Peter, would like to admit).

Of course, if you want to be legal, then you can’t watch it whilst actually being broadcast.

Or you could input a licence number.

Just remember, the BBC will not issue a Television licence for viewing outside the UK!

So, as long as you download your stuff within the UK, you’re OK!

Do you really need a Television Licence?

Everyone will tell you that you need a valid TV Licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast. Watching while during broadcast includes the use of devices such as a computer, laptop, mobile phone or DVD/video recorder.

It isn’t really enough to say that you don’t watch as a programme is broadcast–there is actually a process for exemption from being licensed

http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/topics/what-if-a-tv-licence-is-not-needed-top12/

The declaration process is found here:

https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/nln/index.aspx

In my case,the BBC has told me that not only do I not need a licence–they won’t let you have a licence if one is outside the UK! This is because you are technically not supposed to be watching internal BBC material from outside the UK, but more on that in Part II of Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC.

On the other hand, if one hasn’t undergone the process of exemption and passed, then you are whinging. If you can prove you don’t need a licence, then you are exempt.  Although, you can’t honestly claim that if you are at home using a computer attached to the  Internet.

It really isn’t that hard.  I had an encounter or two with the evil Television Detector Van during my university days, and they left me alone when I told them I didn’t own a television. Of course, I dutifully bought a licence once my situation had changed (which I still have as a souvenir).

Wherever you are: you’re with the BBC (Part I)

The title from this post comes from the World Services int signal, but it seems quite appropriate.  Two of the BBC’s public purposes as set out in its Royal Charter are:

In Ye Olden Dayes, the BBC Motto was “Nation shall speak peace unto Nation”.  I don’t think it has changed.

NPR’s John Hackenbberry was a guest announcer on the BBC World Service recently and also pointed out that the BBC is indeed public broadcasting in its most pure sense.

In other words, the BBC is truly public radio, which is supported by the British Public through Television licences.

While I understand this, I want to say that I’ve added Peter’s blog, http://tv-licensing.blogspot.com, to my blogroll.  While I disagree with him about paying licence fees and the system of licence fees, I do agree with him about how the BBC tries to raise its funds.  I am of the impression that Peter would say their methods are coercive.  I think we are in agreement that they are misguided.

As regular readers will know, I frequently browse the internet looking for TV Licensing related articles and trivia. Every day someone has a new take on what the TV licence fee is, what it’s for and how it’s enforced.

Peter and I are in agreement that the TV detector van is one of the more idiotic things going…

The question is would people such as Peter prefer to have the BBC follow US public broadcasting’s model and start having “extort-a-thons”? That’s where they take a week or two from regularly scheduled programming to try and shame their viewers into coughing up the cash to run their show. They might show a few minutes of a programme to come on and say “we need x amount of pledges to make our goal”.

One PBS station actually harangued the people who weren’t supporting public broadcasting as a bunch of leeches.

But as the US public broadcasting model points out: “if you have our station on your preset, you are a user. That means you should be a member as well”.

Member being a more polite term than licence holder.

Or you can have commercials.

I would add that US cable not only makes you pay, but they add more commercials to an already over commercially saturated programme. Cable in the US also costs as much, if not far more, than a  Colour Television Licence with, in the words of Bruce Springsteen, “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”.

The ultimate point is that people who use the service should pay for it.  And while US public Broadcasting has a poor ratio of members to listeners, the BBC does not.

There is, of course, another aspect to all this, which is the BBC would like its material to be viewed within the UK due to licensing agreements with its partners (E.g., Discovery Channel and US Public Broadcasting). That is going to be the topic of Part II.

See also:

More thoughts on BBC funding

I thought about adding this to my previous post, but it is more of a comment made in jest than one with any serious value–the BBC could adopt the same model as US Public broadcasting–with fundraisers and “underwriting”.  Of course, that wouldn’t go over very well since people already pay TV licence fees.  Additionally, I am not sure of the compliance with UK TV Licence fees, but I would hazard a guess that it is much better than that of people who pay for US public broadcasting.  Toss in that “underwriting” is basically a euphemism for commericals and it would be cause for revolt amongst the licence holders.

Likewise, US commercial broadcasting mostly runs along cable or other providers such that most of the programming is commercials of some sort.  That is tremendously annoying if one is paying for cable or satellite to have to sit through what is mostly commercials.

So, I have no problem with the TV licence fee or paying for the services if my contribution will keep the programming non-commercial.

Charging for BBC iPlayer downloads

This is a longer version of the comment I left at the BBC website. Unfortunately, they only allow 350 characters, which is almost two whole tweets! That is not enough to leave a proper comment on this subject.

OK, I’ve said that the Beeb should begin charging for BBC iPlayer, not totally in jest. The major problem is that people are already paying for this service by their Television Licence fees–in theory. Perhaps, the BBC should require that one’s iPlayer profile also include the TV licence information.

Although, I have also pointed out that a loophole exists if one time shifts BBC programming via iPlayer downloads, as the licence fee only covers live broadcast reception. We come into curious other policy problems with this. The major one is that the BBC tries to have as large an audience for its programmes as it can. That said, charging for this material begins to run against this policy. Additionally, this is a regressive charge which will hit the poor. The BBC could charge a lower fee for an “iPlayer” specific licence.

Also, if the BBC is going to start charging for this material, then they need to make more of it accessible. The big case in point to me is News (e.e., News at Six and News at Ten). I would be willing to pay for access to news programmes if they are downloadable via iPlayer.

Another problem, many of the iPlayer downloaders can access this material from outside the UK. I’m not going to get into this, but this also has some ramifications for the debate. If the BBC is going to start charging for this material, are they going to turn a blind eye to where the view is accessing the material? One can buy the DVDs and watch them in another region using a region free DVD player. I know that the BBC’s response is that there are other digital rights holders, but if someone is waving money at them.

Of course, I have this vision of people applying for TV licences from Effing Sodbury and Chipping Wedgewood if the only criteria is a TV licence!  How many people would get TV licences with the address  10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA?  Some addresses could have more TV licences leading one to conclude that more people lived there than a Calcutta tenement!

Then, this gets to another issue I have with the BBC. They have a revenue stream which they do not exploit, which is some of their unissued material. The big case in point would be issuing DVDs of the Goodies TV show. That is a tremendously popular series, yet the BBC has not issued any of the shows in a serious manner. I think we can blame a couple of things here, which is the old archival policy which has trashed as significant amount of British Television history (e.g., Take Three Girls, The Borderers, etcetera).

The final problem is that popular British TV programmes end up in the download community, which I doubt will be something that will stop if the BBC begins to charge for iPlayer material. In fact, I think that would become more of a problem for the BBC if iPlayer material is subject to a fee. So, unless the BBC is going to begin to put more of its material out on DVD, I don’t think they will come up with a fool proof way of making money from the iPlayer downloads.

As I said, I think the best way would be to introduce a reduced iPlayer fee and not loot at where the person is accessing the material from which would allow for better access to the BBC material. But, I don’t think the BBC chiefs are going jump at this. That means they are left with people using iPlayer on the honour system.

See also: