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Praise Be To The BBC

December 7th, 2005 Leave a comment Go to comments

Something has just made me think how much I appreciate the BBC, and the way that is funded (for those not in the know, it’s funded by an annual License Fee, paid by all residencies with a television set).

The BBC has an amazing news site at http://news.bbc.co.uk where anyone in the world can access it for free. The BBC are currently in a technology/Internet push, and so they continue to embrace news ideas and new technologies. Because of this, I am able to sign up for as many RSS feeds from their site as I like, which are updated “every minute of every day” and include about 30 top stories per feed – all for free. I don’t need to register, I don’t need to tell them who or where I am, it’s all anonymous.

Compare this to the Spanish newspaper “El Mundo”.

I learnt Spanish to A-Level standard, and the other day I decided that I would like to get back more practice with the language. To do this, I decided the best way would be to read Spanish newspapers. So this morning, I went to the “El Mundo” site (http://www.elmundo.es), and tried to find an RSS feed. After waiting through an advert, that I could see no way to cancel (N.B. None of this on the BBC site – they don’t need to, thank god), I was confronted with the front page.

I tried to use automatic feed discovery in my RSS reader (the Sage plugin for Firefox), but it could not find any. I hunted high and low for an orange “RSS” button, and checked to see if one had been identified by Firefox (they are usually shown in the address bar, or in the status bar) – none was present. I even viewed the source code to see if they had messed up the “embedding” in the page. Nope, not there.

Eventually, I noticed that there was a link (not the standard orange button) at the bottom of the page (rather amusingly, it advertised that it uses IPv4 – wow! – and is a member of the W3C – why?). Anyway, turns out that to view RSS feeds, you need to register (admittedly for free), telling them who and where I am. I needed to provide an email address, so that they could send me a PIN number to access the feeds. So I registered, received my PIN and logged in. It appears that I can subscribe to 2 out of there 6, or so, feeds at any one time. Not only that, but each feed is updated only once every 2 hours for each user, and I only get 6 stories per feed.

That’s absolutely terrible. The idea of RSS, is that it can be syndicated easily – I shouldn’t have to wait 2 hours to get the latest information about 6 stories.

I don’t bloody believe it! It looks like they have already reduced it so I can only five stories at a time!
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