Avoiding the Chasm

March 29, 2008

BBC iPlayer Installation Woes and Success

Filed under: Media — Tags: — vextasy @ 12:02 am

I’ve seen several postings about issues people have had with BBC iPlayer installations and many more posts containing descriptions of attempts to solve these issues. In general, I found that installation on three machines (two Vista and one XP) in the house was very straightforward but did have a problem on one of the three machines, a Vista machine.

I believe my problem may have been caused by running the installation program as administrator but, whatever the cause, the symptoms were that I could download programs with the download manager but when I attempted to play any program by clicking on “Watch Now” the iPlayer would simply silently refuse to do anything. If I modified the iPlayer settings to allow me to use “my default media player” (in my case Windows Media Player) it would also fail to play the video and (if I recall correctly) display a message about being unable to open or find the media.

The solution in my case was entirely related to file and folder permissions and the following steps resolved everything:

  1. Find the folder where the iPlayer stores the downloaded media files. In my case, C:\Users\Public\Videos\My Deliveries\iplayer_live
    This information may be determined from the iPlayer settings page.
  2. Look at the permissions on one of the media files in the folder. The files will have names like 8780437_74568151_Selection_DOWNLOAD.wmv.
    Right click on a file and choose properties->security and check that your username (or everyone) has at least “read & execute” and “read” permission on the file.
    If it doesn’t then it is quite likely that this will be your problem and so continue with the steps below.
  3. On a Vista machine for which the installation worked first time I find that the files have “read & execute” and “read” permission
    for my username and “full control”, “modify”, “read & execute”, “read”, and “write” permissions for my group (Administrators).
    You will need to manually add sufficient permissions to allow you to at least read the file. I think I took the heavy handed approach that
    we all take in times of desperation and applied “full control” to the .wmv and its accompanying .smi file (the file with the same name
    but different file suffix).
  4. Test the file, by either right clicking the .wmv file and choosing “play”, or by clicking the corresponding “Watch Now” link
    in the iPlayer “My Downloads” window.
  5. If the file doesn’t play (allow a suitable startup time) then this isn’t the solution to your problem.
  6. If the file does play, then you will most likely need to perform a similar fix for all of your downloaded programs.

In my case, the real problem lay in the permissions associated with the folder C:\Users\Public\Videos\My Deliveries\iplayer_live.
My solution was to change the permissions on the folder to allow “full control” to “Everyone” and to ensure that such permissions were subsequently inherited by all new files that the iPlayer download manager created in the future.



  1. I have/had a similar problem. Although changing the permissions on the folder and files works, I find that new downloaded files still get the original permissions. This results in Media Player being able to see the files but cannot play them.

    Anyone solved this or know how to control the permissions that the downloaded files get?

    Comment by neil2002 — April 7, 2008 @ 3:55 pm

  2. You could have a look at the log files (error.log and error2.log) in C:\ProgramData\Kontiki (at least on Vista that’s where they are) and see if that throws up any additional information.

    I think it’s fair to say that I was very heavy handed giving user ‘Everyone’ Full Control over ‘This folder, subfolders and files’ in the folder C:\Users\Public\Videos\My Deliveries\iplayer_live

    Comment by vextasy — April 7, 2008 @ 4:17 pm

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