Saturday, February 03, 2007

The BBC and Mac Users

People who own TVs in the UK (and that's just about everybody) have to pay a license fee to the Government so that the BBC can be funded without commercials. This has been so ever since the BBC was established as a quasi-state broadcasting service with "freedom from governmental influences". Each household must pay an annual fee of £131.50 (that's over US$250) in order to use a TV. The funds obtained are passed on to the BBC in order for them to provide quality commercial-free services and entertainment. Owning and operating a TV without a license is a criminal offence and it is one of the most aggressively enforced items on the criminal code. Households that do not own a TV are considered guilty until they can prove otherwise. Those who own a TV to watch DVDs are considered to be watching TV because the tuning equipment inide the TV is switched on.

Watching TV on a computer, of course, is now possible and streaming of TV signals over high speed broadband is becoming an exciting option. In order to continue to raise funds, the BBC Trust has decided to offer TV downloads, etc., as an alternative to broadcasting them "over the air".

The BBC already has an extensive web service, bbc.co.uk. Many programs are available for viewing and listening, so there is a precedent for what is intended to become a major component in the BBC's mix.

But as MacWorld reports, all users are not necessarily equal in the eyes of the BBC. "Microsoft users", presumably alluding to those with the Windows operating system, will be considered normal users while others, including "Mac users" will be considered second class. So much so that the BBC is running a semi-clandestine survey of Mac users to see how much they (we) want to be treated as equals. You can find the survey here and I encourage you to complete this survey if you are a Mac user and let them know exactly what you think!

I suggest that the message conveyed be simple:

"As a household that pays the license fee we believe that on demand services should not be prioritised to certain computer operating systems. Non Microsoft operating systems must be supported to the same extent as the Microsoft operating system with no delays and additional waiting periods. In addition, support for all computer system users should be to the same standard."

And:

"If non-Microsoft operating systems are not supported, the case for either non-payment or reduced-payment of the license fee will be justified."