BBC News Flash

I am a regular reader of the BBC News website, but it’s a great shame that the BBC thinks that inflicting flash on its visitors is a good idea. It isn’t. Really, it isn’t.

Ideally, the BBC techies would fully embrace HTML5 and its native abilities to play video.

And in fact, they have! They just don’t do HTML5 video if you visit them using Firefox, which also plays native HTML5 video, for reasons that passeth understanding.

So if you, like me, want to disable Flash in your Firefox browser, and yet watch BBC News videos, here’s what you need:

  • Visit this site and install the UA Control plugin
  • Visit this site and install the User Agent JS (Javascript) Fixer plugin

Restart your browser when you’re done, and with both those successfully installed, go to Firefox’s ‘Add-Ons’ console (click the hamburger menu → Add-ons) and click the Preferences menu next to the UA Control plugin:

Click the [Add Site] button and type in:

  • Site: bbc.co.uk
  • Custom: Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 5.2; Nexus 7 Build/KTU84P) AppleWebKit/540 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/46 Safari/540

Save that and repeat the same procedure to add the same Custom Agent String for site bbcimg.co.uk

Now if you visit the news.bbc.co.uk website, the BBC will think you’re running some form of Android and know to display its video wares at you using native HTML5.

Why we have to dance this particular jig in order to persuade the BBC to do the right thing, I have no idea. It’s a shame it’s needed -especially as it prevents the use of the BBC iPlayer tool (though as a non-Brit, using a Paris-based VPN, I can’t use that anyway). Hopefully, they will learn sooner rather than later: Flash is dangerous and anyone who hasn’t disabled it and/or uninstalled it is asking for trouble, and corporations that expect users to be using it in this day and age are dumber than your average bear.