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Critics hit out over BBC's HTML5 stance

BBC iPlayer

By Stewart Mitchell

Posted on 25 Aug 2010 at 15:11

The BBC has been branded "eccentric" for its refusal to adopt HTML5 for online video.

Last week, BBC technology chief Erik Huggers used a blog post to justify the corporation’s continuing commitment to Flash for delivering video, claiming that the HTML5 may be "sailing off course".

HTML5 is an open standard that's being supported by all of the major browsers, but Huggers expressed concern that browser makers and other companies appeared to be pushing the standard toward proprietary implementations.

The BBC isn’t prepared to embrace HTML5 until there is a single open implementation, but there’s no single open implementation of Adobe Flash either

Following yesterday’s Google announcement that the company had started to use the HTML5 video tag for mobile YouTube, content delivery firm Volantis has launched a scathing attack on Huggers.

“The launch of YouTube’s HTML5 mobile site will surely, finally, silence the media voices, who have been claiming that the standard may not be the future of the mobile internet,” said Mark Watson, CEO of Volantis. “No-one is going to be able to say that pressing ahead with HTML5 development is eccentric when the world’s dominant video site is backing it, alongside Microsoft, Apple, and Google.

“Indeed, it’s the BBC’s stance on this issue that is eccentric or suggests a vested interest. At the very least, Erik Huggers’ recent blog post defending the corporation’s use of Adobe Flash revealed a double standard.”

According to Watson, the video delivery industry doesn't need to wait for a single open version of HTML5, as long as different versions work properly together and that forcing development companies into one-size-fits-all would be counter productive.

“The BBC, Huggers says, isn’t prepared to embrace HTML5 until there is a single open implementation, but there’s no single open implementation of Adobe Flash either,” said Watson. “As Mr Huggers almost certainly knows, forcing the single open implementation that he’s supposedly waiting for can only damage or hold back HTML5 which is currently thriving in the open.”

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User comments

"the video delivery industry doesn't need to wait for a single open version of HTML5, as long as different versions work properly together"

And the different versions will all work together because they're following the same HTML5 standard. Err ... and that standard would be?

Isn't this how Microsoft ended up with its proprietary extensions to HTML? There is a certain risk here that the BBC is right to highlight.

By AdrianB on 25 Aug 2010

The BBC have been long known to favour monopoly companies. Their new media department was mostly set up and staffed by Ashley Highfield, now the UK Managing Director of Microsoft and when he was in charge at the BBC they pushed technologies that required users to buy new computers with Win XP on board; it's no surprise they are now pushing Adobe products.

By SwissMac on 25 Aug 2010

More than Video...

HTML5 is more than just video (and audio) tags...

That said, there is a problem with video currently, in that no browser supports all of the formats, which means that the site owner needs to keep the video in several formats. With Flash, much as I loathe it, at least you only need the video in one format...

By big_D on 26 Aug 2010

Until it is established as a standard and open source only a fool would adopt it. Support it maybe, use it perhaps, but migrate to it & find one of the developers decided to take ownership of part of it and now require royalties & IP rights to the parts you have used for the last xxx months? Or that the "version" you adopted is not the standard and no longer compliant or compatible?

Perhaps rather than slagging off others who are not yet prepared to adopt what is in effect a “beta“ product, they would be better off developing a mature "must have" standard?

By mikeos on 26 Aug 2010

Streaming

As far as I know there's not wide support for RTSP (streaming) for the video tag in browsers. I doubt the BBC wants to give direct access to their video for all and sundry to download directly. Though they do for iphone/touch users.

By magicmonkey3 on 27 Aug 2010

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