03.10.10

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Ashley Highfield, Microsoft UK, Bill Gates, Murdoch, and the BBC

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 6:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“We have 17.1 million users of bbc.co.uk in the UK and, as far as our server logs can make out, 5 per cent of those [use Macs] and around 400 to 600 are Linux users.”

Ashley Highfield

Summary: The latest embarrassments from the BBC, including discrimination against users of GNU/Linux

James Randi correctly pointed out that “some things are easily accepted because they are repeated so often” (watch what he says towards the end). Our disappointment with the BBC is no news [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] and the BBC is no news, either. Many reasons were given here before.

A regular reader wrote to us about “Ashley Highfield, Microsoft, and the BBC,” explaining again this incestuous relationship that we covered here before, sometimes concentrating on Ashley Highfield in particular [1, 2, 3]. “So he’s been ‘working with’ Microsoft since 2006,” writes our reader, “spends ages slowing down the adoption of iPlayer and then goes full time at Microsoft. Meanwhile, some time back we have legal challenges to iPlayer from Murdoch, who also happens to be in talks with Microsoft. No doubt Microsoft promised him he would make lots of money if he became their attack dog against Google. What a long term devious strategy by his Billness.”

“Meanwhile, some time back we have legal challenges to iPlayer from Murdoch, who also happens to be in talks with Microsoft.”
      –Anonymous
Last week we showed that after private debates between Murdoch and Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13], Murdoch said that he was "ready to sue" Google. This is now corroborated by CNET. But anyway, this post is mostly about Highfield.

To quote this week’s news from The Guardian, ‘”This is a big moment – we are taking out our slingshots and taking on Goliath,” said the managing director and vice-president of consumer and online at Microsoft UK, Ashley Highfield, adding that he believed Bing met a real desire from both consumers and advertisers”…’

Our reader adds this much older reference from the BBC, which says: “Ashley Highfield, director of the BBC’s new media division, shared a platform with Microsoft boss Bill Gates at a technology conference in Las Vegas.”

It also says: “Mr Highfield demonstrated how a system like iMP could work on a computer running Microsoft’s updated Windows Vista operating system as part of a potential home entertainment solution…”

Remember Vista?

Wonderful. Today we found out (via Popey) that the BBC does even more to ensure that iPlayer is blocking/neglecting Free software users.

The events of the past two weeks (here, here, here and here) have clarified the BBC’s stance on allowing interoperability with open-source iPlayer clients. I have therefore decided to withdraw get_iplayer with immediate effect.

Ian Hunter’s post (Managing Editor, BBC Online) provided very clear guidance on the way the BBC feels about open-source applications accessing iPlayer streams. I have no desire act against the BBC’s wishes in this respect.

Via ThistleWeb we found “More BBC / MS incest” (his words), which can be found right here in The Times:

The system was launched by Ashley Highfield, Microsoft’s UK consumer and online managing director, who had been one of the key figures behind the development of the BBC’s iPlayer.

The iPlayer has been remarkably successful in Britain, regularly dealing with more than 40 million programme requests a month.

However, Mr Highfield insisted that Microsoft’s product, which has been in testing for the past six months, is superior to the iPlayer. “Not all video players are equal,” he said. “Our average viewer watches for 25 minutes, significantly higher than other online services. It shows we’re doing more than slapping on any programme for people to watch.”

The technology company has secured deals with a number of television studios and broadcasters such as Endemol, the maker of Big Brother; RDF Media, which created Location, Location, Location; and BBC Worldwide.

Who is this guy kidding? Does the BBC not realise that hiring people like Highfield has become a total embarrassment that leads to resentment from the British public? There are quite a few other BBC executives who were hired from Microsoft UK, including Highfield's successor. It’s almost as though they discovered a new host that also enjoys the ability to deliver (or deny) content and misinformation. Such relationships between national media and corporations are always dangerous.

Microsoft BBC

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2 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    March 10, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    Gravatar

    Get iPlayer has been forked and is alive:

    http://github.com/jjl/get_iplayer

    It’ll be interesting to see if the BBC try legal means to stop a licence payer from developing or using this software.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    It’s only hours old. It develops as we speak. Excellent!

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