Microsoft strikes again 

1 February 2008 tbs.pm/1158

For an extended version of this article, click here.

It was bad enough that the BBC’s iPlayer excludes tens of thousands of licence-payers by being Windows-only. Now Classic FM, the UK’s most popular commercial radio station, has done the self-same thing by making its “MyClassicFM” multichannel music service Windows-only. The claimed reason for this is, as with the BBC, that they want DRM on their streams and WIndows Media can only be played on Windows.

That of course is rubbish on several counts. First, you can play Windows Media on a Macintosh with ease – the Flip4Mac plugin for QuickTime has been around for years now. But MyClassicFM doesn’t support Safari, Firefox or Opera so that’s out too.

Second, Why do they need to stick DRM on their streams at all? There are millions of internet radio stations out there that are perfectly legal and licensed – particularly those run by existing terrestrial broadcasters (terrestrial broadcasters? What is the generic term for over-the-air broadcasters?) who do not use DRM on their streams. In fact it’s almost unheard of.

Third, why don’t they do a blanket licence agreement and pay for it from advertising?

Fourth, there is an open-source DRM project out there that would be ready in short order given investment from people like the BBC and GWR. But no… they just take the Microsoft shilling and blow off thousands of listeners.

There are lots of questions and, in my view, no satisfactory answers. What is the real story here? The public needs to know. We should be told.

And when will it be fixed by both the BBC and Classic FM?