Tuesday, May 17, 2005

TV on demand

The BBC is to offer a range of programmes via video on demand. The catch is that they are putting in a DRM system to restrict content to their UK license payers.

Thought 1: How they plan to identify license payers? Presumably they will allow you to register given your license number or similar. Of course there will be a whole lot of trading of credentials, not to mention trading of MPEGs (especially given that the BBC will be under political pressure to make its content available via an open source codec - such codes not being compatible with effective DRM).

Thought 2: Currently one of the BBCs revenue sources is program syndication (selling Top Gear to Prime for instance). If they are distributing programmes directly to the UK (and consequently having them ripped off around the world) then this is going to undermine the price they can get for those programmes. They may wind up being able to get more money by offering the shows free with built in advertising than through syndication.

Thought 3: The BBC license fee is a compulsory tax on all UK TV users, enforced by law. If the BBC begins to electronically "lock" its content, then it calls into question the need for their "tax raising powers". Given that the UK is moving to a digital platform for broadcast TV in the next 10 years, this is likely to become an interesting issue.

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