The television series, THE TUDORS, is just now going to air on ABC TV – three years after it’s screening in the northern hemisphere. In fact you might ask: Why bother with the ABC when you can buy the entire series on DVD, already discounted?
Yes, yes – it has been screened on pay TV, but only a small percentage of the population is buying cable at the moment.
In this day and age when mind-numbing, moronic sporting contests are broadcast in real time, as they are happening anywhere in the world, why must we wait months or years for decent TV drama and comedy? Can it be the arrogance of programmers? They get to see things when they are new, the peasants can wait. Fair enough.
Naughty people who have no regard for intellectual property don’t wait. They bittorrent. For instance the series ZEN, based on the popular novels of Michael Dibdin about an Italian detective, has just started screening on BBC One. The first two episodes have gone to air and already they are available for wicked people to download. I am told (although I wouldn’t be able to say from first hand observation, of course) that the video and audio quality is excellent.
Some unscrupulous and misguided English persons record them off air from high definition broadcasts [Oh! They have HD for real programs in the UK? How lucky are they? While HD here is reserved for sport, Wagon Train and self-indulgent 24 hour news channels] and upload the episodes to torrent sites within hours of broadcast.
Now, here’s a tricky moral question. Assuming that the ABC decides to buy ZEN and broadcast it in 2014, without advertising, how are we committing any sort of crime or sin if we choose to see the programs now? We are not cheating anyone of their profits. And the ABC is using distance to defend its insulting programming processes and to limit viewers’ choices.
Just as the ACCC chose to enter the case against DVD zoning, resulting in Australians being able to buy de-zoned DVD players and to buy and play discs from anywhere in the world, so the ACCC should be defending P2P [bittorrent] downloaders when no commercial interests are being damaged. And perhaps even when they are.
After all, if publishers are now obliged to have books on the shelves in Australian bookshops within a few weeks of publication in Britain or the US why should television networks be permitted to deny us access to new release TV programs?
And while you are not downloading ZEN you should also definitely not download DOWNTON ABBEY. This superb period drama with Hugh Bonneville and Maggie Smith in the lead is far too good for the Arse Enders. Perhaps in 2018 it might turn up in Oz, but almost certainly not in the high definition format in which it was broadcast.