Now I know my ABC

Mikey 2 comments
Now I know my ABC

Who can truly say they only use one web browser? I wish I could. But the truth is, like most others I suspect, we use our preferred browser 95% of the time and our least preferred for the remainder. I for one have little tolerance when a web site forces me to launch Internet Explorer to access content that would otherwise work fine on any other browser had they not coded the site with proprietary I.E. code.

Case in point: ABC Online have news streams they incorrectly claim will not work on Mozilla based browsers. The truth is the streams are just fine. They have simply coded the page in a way that makes it impossible for Firefox and other Mozilla based browsers to access the video. And I have the proof. Here is a message I sent to ABC support last week.


The HELP page of your broadband section incorrectly states:

"Mozilla-based browsers such as Netscape and Firefox don�t fully support all of the features of the Real and Windows Media formats as standard."

While I can not speak for Netscape, Firefox is well equipped to play all forms of Windows Media Files. I have personally coded many web sites which have Windows Media content embedded into pages that play fine on both Internet Explorer and Firefox.

Firefox does however have an issue with Ninemsn insisting that Internet Explorer be used to view their Windows Media content. While I am not surprised by this (they are affiliated with Microsoft after all), I find it curious that the ABC does not employ standards with its own web site development, which had it done would have allowed all your content to be displayed in ALL web browsers regardless.

Anyhow, because I am a resourceful kind of guy, I have examined the source code of your web site and was easily able to establish the paths to your news video streams. I then coded a quick HTML page and found that as suspected, the video streams do in fact work in Firefox without any dramas.

This begs the question, why would the ABC deliberately deny the web site user freedom of choice? While I expect this sort of thing from Ninemsn, I hardly expect it from the ABC. If you want my source code, I will gladly send it to you.

I eagerly await a reply. Preferably a technical response, not a sugar coated PR job.

Kind regards,


I have yet to receive a reply. The news streams are still working right now as I write this article. I can watch the ABC news in Firefox using the page I coded - menus and everything. But before you even ask, I will not dare place the video streams on this web site in fear of the ABC sending me a cease and desist order. I will however, dare to ask them for permission. That reply should be interesting.

While I find it inconceivable the fair and unbiased ABC would ever have an agenda with Internet Explorer, it is curious the most significant video content on their web site is only accessible via said browser.

Watch this your preferred browser.


Update, 29th March 2006: Since I first wrote this article and sent an official complaint to the ABC on this matter, it appears they have now rectified the problem. You can now view the ABC news videos in Firefox without any dramas. It is good to see some good coding pratices employed, instead of limiting thier user base to Internet Explorer users only, which is a very tired (and not practiced by any reputable web developers anymore) way of developing web sites. But I notice they have not updated the Help page to reflect 'the mozilla issue' yet :-)


Not a Member!


Saturday 18th June 2005 | 05:52 PM

ABC = government, you have not had a reply yet mike? then the wheels that turn in government depts. may be a long slow process. will be passed from one dept. to another.......... though it will be interesting to hear what they say, sugar coated or not!

Not a Member!

Michael O.

Thursday 18th August 2005 | 05:09 PM

Yes I did get a reply eventually. See below:

"While the video itself will play in Mozilla-based browsers just fine, these browsers don't support the interactive functions associated with the video, such as the playlist and related links. This is what the help section means when it says these browsers don't *fully* support Real and Windows Media."

Well sadly it was a PR response, and as suspcted they will probably not take measures to fix what is essentially a problem any 1st year HTML kiddie can manage.

I have tweaked my local version so now I have news on demand in Firefox - no problems.

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