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Somewhere I'm missing an essential step in installing the plugins. I have FC9 and a yum search shows that I have the major plugins - gstreamer, xine - installed on my system. I did a yum install and they were already installed.
However they do not show up in totem/preferences and the player objects to all major formats - mpeg, quicktime, wmv. Here's a verbose error message:
[olin@localhost ~]$ totem --gst-plugin-spew
** Message: don't know how to handle video/mpeg, mpegversion=(int)1, systemstream=(boolean)false
** Message: don't know how to handle audio/mpeg, mpegversion=(int)1
** Message: Error: You do not have a decoder installed to handle this file. You might need to install the necessary plugins.
gstplaybasebin.c(2284): prepare_output (): /play