Industry Moves: BBC Hires Another Microsoft Exec For iPlayer

The BBC has hired Jon Billings to a new team responsible for developing the next generation of its iPlayer internet TV catch-up software, The Register reports. Billings had previously been a programme manager in Microsoft’s Digital Media Division, working on Windows Media technologies, content production, distribution wireless play. He’s the second Microsoft exec the BBC has hired to its digital distribution efforts this year, after the appointment of Erik Huggers in May. Huggers had spent nine years at the Redmond, WA, outfit including stints as a senior director charged with driving the industry’s Windows Media adoption, and is now controller of Ashley Highfield’s Future Media & Technology division, overseeing programme strategy.

Depending on your persuasion (ie. if you are an open-source advocate, Linux-head or Mac fanboy), you may consider this would put the BBC on a further collision course with those who believe iPlayer’s Windows Xp exclusivity to be a mistake. iPlayer was released in beta in July and had clocked up 200,000 registrations by August. In fact, Billings’ appointment comes in what The Register calls a “shake-up” following the exit of former iPlayer director Ben Lavendar, who quit for online DVD rental outfit Lovefilm later that month. In an in-depth interview with paidContent:UK (see full transcript), Highfield said a Mac version would soon be unveiled and would offer streaming capabilities.