BBC iPlayer login will be required from 2017

Peter Corlett abuse at
Sat Oct 1 02:58:49 PDT 2016

On Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 12:02:55PM +0100, Jim web wrote:
> RS <richard22j at> wrote:
>> At present the BBC's attitude seems to be that if your Smart TV is more than
>> 2 years old that's tough; they can't be bothered to support it.
> I wish people wouldn't keep trotting out this misrepresentation here. It has
> been dealt with in the past.

> It is the responsibility of the *vendor* of closed commerial items to ensure
> what you buy works as it should. They may 'subcontract' that to the makers,
> who in turn may commission someone else to deal with it.

> The BBC try to give info well in advance to makers and those who offer 'smart
> TV' boxes. Its then their job to handle it. Not the BBC's.

I must disagree.

The BBC has historically maintained broadcasting in standards long after they
had become obsolete. BBC2 launched in the new 625 line service in 1964 and the
BBC had internally migrated everything to this new standard by 1969. The BBC
maintained a downconverted 405 line service until 1985. It was supposedly only
scrapped because they needed to bring the service down for maintenance for a
while, and received no complaints.

DAB was invented in 1990 and used the best codec available at the time. Sadly,
it's not very good. Even now, the BBC still maintain that they can't replace
the service with something that doesn't sound like an old longwave receiver in
a fishpond because of all the legacy receivers. (There are better standards:
DRM started broadcasting in 2003 and is only used by the World Service, DAB+
has been around for about ten years but is still only in the trial stage in the

But when it comes to "smart" devices, apparently a couple of years notice is
sufficient. The BBC's assumption is perhaps that the functionality is in
software and can be updated, but if so, it's very much mistaken. There are two
reasons, which I'll call "won't" and "can't":

The "won't" is that it's been obvious for many years that manufacturers of
consumer electronics almost never release updated versions of software for
devices. Not only smart TVs, but Android phones, toys, and whatnot. Users also
never get round to applying the updates even if they are available. Even as
somebody who has a good understanding of this stuff, I am still rather wary of
applying firmware updates to devices that are out of warranty and cannot be
returned if the update bricks them.

The "can't" is that while many functions are software-defined, there is still a
hardware component, and the hardware may not be powerful enough to support the
new service. They're not faulty and will work indefinitely while the service is
still being broadcast. It's the decision of the broadcasters to suspend the
service that's the problem.

The BBC needs to provide parallel-running of both the legacy standard and the
shiny new standard for at least the expected lifetime of the receivers, and two
years is nowhere near enough. In the case of 405-line service, it was at least
16 years.

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