24 January 2010

BBC iplayer

As an ex-pat living in a non English speaking country the internet is an excellent opportunity to keep track of news and entertainment from back in the old country...

I read the papers everyday and listen to Radio 4 fairly regularly. Despite broadcasting news and music to the World the powers that be at the Beeb are less keen to share their TV shows across the ether, something to do with the license fee which I don’t really understand. Yes British people pay for the stuff via the licence fee but once it is paid for it doesn’t make any difference if its watched by 5 million people in Britain or 20 million people worldwide. I totally fail to see what is gained by stopping people from outside of the UK watching this stuff, its all rather like the “Dog in the manger”.

Anyway the other evening I was home alone and bored so I set about trying to figure out how I could watch “the secret life of chaos” on the iplayer. This is what I discovered.

Basic stuff
Internet explorer will allow you to use a proxy server. This can be used to fool the BBC into thinking that your computer is in the UK. To do this go
Tools -> Internet options.
Then click on the “connections” Tab
Then click “LAN settings”
Then there is a check box that you can tick which says “use Proxy server for your LAN”. Check this.
Then you need to enter the address of the proxy server

The challenge is getting a reliable and free proxy server. A Google search reveals lots of sites offering such services, but most are shitte.
The one I used was this one

You must pick an IP address that is “anonymous” and then copy the ipaddress in to the address box. Note the number after the colon (:) is the port e.g. 132 In this case is the address and 132 is the port. Some other sites don’t give a port, in that case try entering 80 as the port, it seems to work.

Then click ok and try to load a website, if it seems slow or doesn’t load go back into the settings and try another proxy address until you find one that works.

Once you do you are ready to go and use the iplayer.
You can turn offthe “use proxy server” at anytime and go back to your normal state. Probably best to do this when you are not trying to watch the BBC.

Free proxy servers don’t seem to last very long. There is always the option to pay for a proxy which is £5 per month here or £9.99 here

I guess if you wanted to use it a lot that would be a good idea and less annoying than having to find a free one everytime. I don’t watch that much TV, so I have never tested this.

Advanced stuff…
If you use Firefox instead of Explorer as your web browser there is an excellent add on called foxyproxy which allows you to set a load of proxy servers and also control when they are activated.
Download firefox here
Then download foxyproxy here

They then have a tutorial on how to install the patterns for the bbc iplayer here . A pattern is a type of web address so that when it encounters that format it knows to use that proxy. It sounds complicated but its pretty straight forward.

There is a good youtube tutorial here.

Good luck and if you need any more help you can always ask this guy


Mike said...

Boring licence fee stuff - the reason you can't access iPlayer overseas is because much of the BBC's content is bought in or commissioned. Usually this stuff (eg like US TV series) are sold or licenced on a geographical basis. So the BBC might have the licence to transmit it to the UK but not to Norway.

Where the BBC owned the rights they usually want to sell this overseas to help increase BBC revenue so they don't have to ask the licence payer for more dosh.

so the BBC is only allowed to give access to the iPlayer to UK IP addresses.

this explains why some proxies wont give you access - because they may still give a non-UK IP.

(another option might be to use a VPN from a UK account but that's getting needlessly techy)

John said...

Mike - I know, I know but in the hayday of the empire the BBC broadcast all that was great across the World and was respected as such. While we still have the World Service etc thats radio which is so last centuary. It says a lot about bankrupt Britian that rather than providing a service to the world (to let them know how great we are) we feel we have to flog it for a few extra quid.
"People who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing"

Anonymous Proxies said...

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