BBC unveils plans for new Britain only iMP player

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World locator map with UnitedKingdom highlighted in green.
World locator map with UnitedKingdom highlighted in green.

Friday, February 4, 2005

The BBC today unveiled it's plans for a new iMP player with which people in the UK will be able to download any BBC tv or radio programme for a week after it has been broadcast in the UK. These downloads will have a limited life, becoming inactive a week after the show has been shown live in the UK. The BBC are justifying their proposed decision to restrict the use of the new player to those using a UK Internet service provider on the basis that it is only UK citizens who pay the television licence. In the UK it is illegal to use a television to receive UK broadcasts without a television licence, but no such restrictions are in place for using either a radio or a computer. It is the money from the licence fee that funds the BBC.

At the moment it is possible to listen to live BBC radio, and to some old programmes for a week, as well as some news output, including Newsnight, by Streaming media through the internet, and this service is available in every part of the world. At the moment there are few sites whose availability is restricted depending on where one is geographically located. Some countries such as Iran and China restrict what the users in it's country can view on the internet, but till now almost all of the material that has been released has been made available all over the world.

The iMP is still not ready, and while the BBC are hoping to release it this year they are refusing to make any promises. Clearly having the technology in place to ensure that the downloads deactivate at a given moment, and that people outside the UK cannot access these downloads, either directly through the internet, or indirectly through file sharing, is going to take a little while yet.