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Aussie TV Networks Fight BitTorrent 550

An anonymous reader writes "It seems impatient TV viewers have discovered BitTorrent in Australia mainly because the networks there are so slow; programs are at times behind by up to 8 months! According to an independent study, it takes an average of four months to watch the latest episodes of top-rated shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives. There are now calls for TV networks to consider offering episodes for download at a small cost."
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Aussie TV Networks Fight BitTorrent

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  • by ForestGrump ( 644805 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:41AM (#12141238) Homepage Journal
    I'd gladly pay a feww dollars/month to download TV eps (sans commericals)- if I don't have to mess with torrents (and it comes down at my full 3meg/sec)
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:25AM (#12141452)

      I'd gladly pay a feww dollars/month to download TV eps (sans commericals)

      There are at least three things certain in life:
      1. Death
      2. Taxes

      When cable TV was beginning to offer premium channels in the U.S. the expectation was that since you were paying for the channels, you wouldn't have to watch commercials.

      That didn't last.

      Now, commercials are even being shown in many movie theaters in the U.S. The commercials are shown during the time advertised as the start of the movie, so it's not like you only see them if you're early to a show.

      I'm not surprised one bit that people are retaliating against the sensory overload of obnoxious product propaganda, both in TV and in the cinema.
      • by azrebb ( 850804 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @04:21AM (#12141869)
        Cinemas in Australia have had commercials at the start of the session since I've been going (15+ years). To be honest, I don't mind as much as tv commercials as you only see them at the start of the movie and normally they're those fancy ones that companies have paid ludicous amounts of money to some marketing firm to make something a)funny b)intelligent c)full of hot scantily clad women or d)all of the above.
        • I have a problem with paying $10 for a movie ticket and then being forced to watch a commercial. They take my entire attention and use the extremely loud sound that the theatre is equipped with. I can't talk with my friends during the commercials; they're too loud.

          And where does that money go, exactly? Oh, right back to the theater owners. Bah. I wish that there were more than just the few options for theaters where I live so I could quit going to ones that showed commercials.
    • From the story:
      There are now calls for TV networks to consider offering episodes for download at a small cost
      I am now confused... Don't these people run TV channels? Wouldn't that be their preferred way to distribute TV shows?
  • by mgv ( 198488 ) * <.gro.namtlev. .ta. .tod2hsals.10.mapsoN.> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:41AM (#12141241) Homepage Journal
    If you were as much a farscape fan as I am, you would understand the frustration in not being able to get the peacekeeper wars by any legal means in Australia.

    The dissapointing thing is that there is no reason why this shouldn't be available in Oz right now. Its not even like film, where the latest releases only have a certain number of reels to go around the world.

    If I can get a high quality copy easily over the internet, why can't the networks figure out how to do it for a profit?

    • by digitalchinky ( 650880 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:16AM (#12141414)
      Australia has 20 million people spread across a landmass roughly the size of the US (minus Alaska) The USA has somewhere on the order of 250 million people units.

      In Australia the average city can support maybe 5 or 6 free to air television stations, and we don't have nearly as many cities either, in the US? (many more usually)

      I think it's about economics, while I agree that it sucks very badly, I think there just isn't enough money thrown around to support such a wide variety of television shows. (Television stations usually have to purchase the rights to air them I gather?)

      I think if the Australian ISP's got in on the act and added a surcharge (small) for a local FTP server filled with these shows, many people would opt in. Downloads would have to be fast, and adverts - well, I think they'll never go away.

      • by Nos. ( 179609 ) <andrew&thekerrs,ca> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:54AM (#12141588) Homepage

        Canada has a population nearing 30 million, and a land mass significantly larger than the US. Yet, we have two Satellite television providers. In the province I live in (Saskatchewan) anyone in a city with a population of around 1000 people has access to high speed internet. The local telco has also started offering wireless which means anyone living within I believe about 30Km of selected spots, will also have high speed available.

        The thing is, around here, a lot of money was invested in the infrastructure for many years. If the copyright holders would begin to allow us to download our favourite shows (for a fee) then we certainly have the infrastructure to support it.

        As for Austrailia, if the government can (and has the money to) get involved, there are a lot of new technologies coming out such as WiMax that can begin to offer high speed internet without the infrastructure costs normally associated with something like expanding DSL to a new area.

        • I think it's important to point out that while Canada is a massive country (2nd or 3rd largest iirc) with a relatively small population (half that of the UK!), it is also a fact that the vast bulk of the population - somewhere in the high 90%s - live within an hour or so's drive of the US border!
        • Canada has a population nearing 30 million, and a land mass significantly larger than the US.

          9,631,419 km [] isn't THAT much smaller than 9,984,670 km [].

          Given how much of Canada is a wasteland, i'd say the size difference is rather insignificant.
        • " Yet, we have two Satellite television providers."
          That is because it is easy for Canada to piggy back on the US satellites. A satellite that covers the US will also cover a lot of Canada. Our common language makes it easy for us to share shows as well.
          Australia would need it's own satellite since there is not Mega English speaking population for it to share with.
          Yes Canada is huge but a large amount of that is land is totally lacking in people and Internet access. Look at the Dempster highway. How many mil
          • That is because it is easy for Canada to piggy back on the US satellites. A satellite that covers the US will also cover a lot of Canada. Our common language makes it easy for us to share shows as well.

            Except that we don't piggback on US satellites. For example, the Nimiq satellite that I get my signal from is owned by ExpressVu [], my provider, and operated by Telesat []. And last time I checked most Australians share that common language.

            Canada even has HUGE as it is the population tends to cluster. I th

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:34AM (#12142092)
        Economics is only part of the story.

        Australia does NOT have a TV Network. We have a few lame, protected stations, that broadcast 22 minutes of commercials per hour - truely 3rd world standard.

        Content is late, and uncertain - and not to 'best practice'. Thanks to easy, electronic access, punters will not tolerate such slackness.

        The stations pay 300-600% MORE for programs (per viewer) than they do, in say America, then compound the situation by trying to get 'Sports', and 'exclusivity', plus movies by 'Cable' companies to siphon even more content. Australians have a lower disposable income, so advertisers get poor value indeed.

        Unsurprisingly, the reaction of punters, um er viewers, is to cancel cable ($72 month for about a dozen channels and with commercials) for a $30 all you can hire at the local DVD outlet. Fast-Forwarding and internet options are attractive options.

        Aussie TV is dysfunctional, inefficient, protected, coddled, commercial ridden, and saddled with overpriced long term movie house agreements.

        Downloading has many pluses. Telstra makes bucks, and the TV stations have REAL reasons for getting content cheaper - because their viewing audience is declining, because they can't negotiate back to profitability. While they mull, more and more will use internet to get their fair share or free to air, with a long antenna.
      • Maybe you should study a demographic density map. Australia has 20 million people spread out in 3 major metro areas combined with a few rural areas on the east coast. Most of the land mass has no people at all. Melbourne and Sydney are more dense than most US and European cities.

        Check out who owns the local stations and do a trade mark search on the Foxtel. The contracts for the Aussie market is just part of the standard contracts for much of the TV production and there is no major reason not to run mo
    • by medge_42 ( 173874 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:28AM (#12141467) Homepage
      Not too sure what you mean here. Amazon has the DVDs available already. You can buy them from the US, and play them on your multi-zone player.
      All perfectly legal, all perfectly legit.
      The trade practices act of 1974 and the copyright ammendments come together to make the zoning of DVDs illegal in Australia. All that's needed is a court decision to make it law.
      Any thing that restricts choice is illegal(Trade Practices) and we are allowed to parallel import(Copyright amendment). To the best of my knowledge neither have been negated by the further amendments.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:42AM (#12141246)
    New Zealand has the exact same problem. There are shows I've heard about that were on in the US 3-4 years ago that will never show here...

    Ah, television - teacher, mother, secret lover. Why must you treat me so badly?
    • Well, there's this program you can download... ;-)

      Seriously, why do you think the UK leads the world in TV thef^H^H^H^Hdownloading? Because we don't get the decent US programs until long after the US either - but we have a huge proportion of BB connections compared to the world at large. If it weren't for the delay, nobody'd bother to download (except for using the net as a post-hoc VCR, which is where it comes in really handy for me!).

    • New Zealands problem is also that we have a (near) monopoly telco setting data costs. The end user effectively pays per megabyte. Most people have monthly download limits from 500MB/mo to (the highest) 10G/mo. It costs real $$$ to download video files here.

      Perhaps Telecom NZ have found a natural defense against video piracy - price gouging

  • Commercials (Score:3, Interesting)

    by elbenito69 ( 868244 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:42AM (#12141247)
    If the TV networks did decide to offer downloads at a cost, would they still include advertisements in the download, or would the cost of the download be sufficient to make up for the lost advertising revenue?
  • Aussies (Score:5, Funny)

    by drivinghighway61 ( 812488 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:42AM (#12141248)
    I'm fairly certain it takes 8 months to change all instances of "Hello" to "G'day!" and all instances of "fries" to "chips." Really, aside from that, Australian people aren't so different after all.
    • Re:Aussies (Score:5, Funny)

      by _generica ( 27453 ) <slashdot.whatevz@net> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:54AM (#12141308) Homepage
      I hope a dingo eats your baby, you insensitive clod!
    • Re:Aussies (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chuq ( 8564 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:59AM (#12141331) Homepage Journal
      Australia actually gets US shows unedited (well, bits cut out to fit more ads in, but we learn your "cultural" terms).

      Its actually happens the other way around - some lines in "Crocodile Dundee" were changed for Americans - I think 'stickybeak' became 'busybody' or something obscure - but that whole movie is a stereotype anyway. In "The Castle", 'rissoles' became 'meatloaf'.
      • "Smell that? Diesel"
        "The only thing better than funniest home videos..."

        I took back my US copy and waited to buy it until I moved back here.
      • Re:Aussies (Score:3, Informative)

        by 1u3hr ( 530656 )
        Its actually happens the other way around - some lines in "Crocodile Dundee" were changed for Americans

        The entire original Mad Max was redubbed with Ameican voices -- it was a big shock to hear this when I saw it on TV outside Australia. Insensitive clods indeed.

    • Re:Aussies (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ozbird ( 127571 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:07AM (#12141369)
      In the case of Mythbusters (shown on SBS), for some reason they've actually replaced the commentary with an Australian dub.
      The comments are identical to the US version, which I had no trouble understanding. What's with that?
      • Re:Aussies (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lushman ( 251748 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:38AM (#12141526)
        The reason for the dub is that it then becomes "Australian Content" and fits into the broadcaster's quota for local programs.
        Channel 10 did it a bit to. Ever wondered why Sandra Sully had to "present" a wildlife documentary? Those minute-or-so spiels she would give at either end of the program were completely pointless to the viewer, but to the regulator, they made the program "Australian".
      • Re:Aussies (Score:3, Interesting)

        by G-funk ( 22712 )
        The big question is - why oh why doesn't the dickhead australian voiceover bloke use Meters and Kilograms instead of feet and flamin' pounds?
      • Re:Aussies (Score:3, Interesting)

        by imroy ( 755 )
        Perhaps because it's made and distributed by 'Beyond', the Australian company that started by making the once-great 'Beyond 2000' program (I'm old enough to just remember when it was called 'Towards 2000' and on the ABC). I wonder if SBS requested the aussie dub or if Beyond had done it for other reasons.
  • by kgbspy ( 696931 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:42AM (#12141249)
    It's not just things being 8-12 months (on average) behind, say, the US or UK, it's also the insistence of the commercial networks (specifically Channel 9 []) to drop series without notice, schedule program episodes in the wrong order, or change the scheduling of episodes at the last minute.

    I'm not surprised that people are taking television programming into their own hands in this country...
    • Bingo. I seem to remember that some of my friends got pissed off that they showed Friends out of order, I saw the same thing for other shows like StarGate. Of course, don't mention how one of the Networks dropped Roswell... so why wouldn't we use BitTorrent?
    • by awful ( 227543 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:53AM (#12141306) Homepage
      Well exactly - if the networks insist on treating their customers badly, eventually their customers will look for alternatives. And then the networks will turn around and scream at the government to help them stop their customers exercising freedom of choice.
    • I stopped watching television on air about three years ago, because it was too hard trying to keep up with what the networks were doing to it.

      Futurama was shown completely out of order, Farscape was tossed around from one timeslot to another before finally being shown consistantly in an afternoon spot and Buffy and Angel were never in sync due to things being shuffled around for sports or other 'specials' one night of the week, so crossovers would never match up.

      A great example just recently was that
    • by stor ( 146442 ) *
      drop series without notice, schedule program episodes in the wrong order, or change the scheduling of episodes at the last minute.

      Good point. I was discussing this with an American living here in Australia and she believed that you wouldn't get away with that crap in the U.S. except for perhaps the Superbowl.

      The way she put it was that in the US, if the TV Guide says a show is going to be on at 10am, it will be on at 10am precisely. In Australia, the scheduling is a pretty loose arrangement. There's litt
    • When Seven introduced program watermarking it was annoying to the extent that I stopped watching that station all together. But now every single channel, bar one (SBS, which is partially government-funded and has a lot of foreign movies, news, etc) place a big logo on the screen. Even the ABC, the Australian equivalent of the BBC in terms of programming and funding, has started watermarking. This looked even more ridiculous on high and standard definition wide screen where the logo appeared on the screen TW
  • Absolutely (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ta bu shi da yu ( 687699 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:42AM (#12141250) Homepage
    I got StarGate Atlantis because I didn't think they were going to show it at all. However, now they have (gah!). That's not the only reason I'd use it though: the networks are notorious for rescheduling shows at inconvinient times - or they drop them altogether! So hence we need to use BitTorrent.
    • Re:Absolutely (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tymbow ( 725036 )
      I got really annoyed with Stargate and channel 7 - it was on again, off again, changed times, off for a few weeks while some crap was on. Eariler in the year they started running the X-files from EP1 which was kind of fun to see from the start and then after about 6-7 weeks it dissapears with no explanation. Same thing happended with Dark Angel - you could never be sure if it was going to be on and at aht time. While I'm ranting, what is with the program times now? TV guides say program X starts at Y - b
      • Indeed. (Score:3, Interesting)

        Yep, that most definitely pisses me off (though I don't tape). StarGate, even a few years ago, got shifted around ridiculously (it happens to be one of my favourite shows). I can see that this same thing is going to happen to BattleStar Galactica. Time to start downloading!
      • Re:Absolutely (Score:4, Interesting)

        by _Hellfire_ ( 170113 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:18AM (#12142042)
        I got really annoyed with Stargate and channel 7 - it was on again, off again, changed times, off for a few weeks while some crap was on.

        They did the same thing to 24 Season 3 (I'm a BIG 24 nut).

        They switched the timing around 3 times, and had some stupid sport special on and delayed the series a week. For a show that ends on a cliffhanger every episode that is fucking annoying.

        Guess what the big surprise twist in 24 Season 3 was? The fact that Nina Myers rocks up when you're least expecting her. Shock factor++ for fans. What does channel seven do 5 seconds before the show starts? Voiceover: "Nina Myers returns to 24...Now!" - show start.

        I almost threw something at the tv. I spent the entire episode wondering how they were going to bring her in and I wasn't surprised when she showed up. Thanks a lot.

        Add to that the fact that Channel 7 can't even tell us when 24 Season 4 is going to be aired, and I've had enough.

        Well, they're up to episode 15 of 24-S4 in the US. Guess how many episodes are sitting on my hard drive courtesy of BitTorrent.

        Fuck em. If they're going to screw around that much, I can't be bothered putting up with their shit. That's my reason for using BT and if they want to stop that, they can clean up their act and I'll start watching the TV and muting the ads like I used to.
      • Re:Absolutely (Score:3, Interesting)

        by virtual_mps ( 62997 )
        To be fair, the same schedule-mangling bullshit happens in the US. Shows are preempted all the time for baseball games and such, or moved around so that the networks can put their most popular shows in a head-to-head deathmatch.
  • by dj42 ( 765300 ) * on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:43AM (#12141251) Journal
    I don't understand how media companies can be so far behind on figuring out digital distribution over the internet...
  • by shreevatsa ( 845645 ) <shreevatsa.slash ... m ['il.' in gap]> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:43AM (#12141252)
    With my dialup internet connection, it would take an average of four months to download it from Bittorent!
  • by fredrickleo ( 711335 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:43AM (#12141254) Homepage
    riveting stuff... of course american networks should just make their tv shows available for a fee, and allow international customers with a valid credit card or paypal to purchase the content too. I'm sure however, that the networks make far more money hawking the tv shows abroad to other networks after they've had their run in the states.
  • by doormat ( 63648 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:44AM (#12141259) Homepage Journal
    Its not like we dont have these satellites and stuff that can beam programming around the planet in the course of a few seconds, especially for english speaking countries like the UK and Australia... even if its a few days behind, its better than 8 months.
  • Top rated? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) * <dragon@76.mac@com> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:44AM (#12141260)
    Are we talking about top-rated shows here in the US or in Australia? The US-centric view that Aussies are clamoring for TV shows that aren't even a season old here sounds ridiculous.

    My limited knowledge of Australian TV has shown me that Aussies prefer BBC programmes over what's showing in the US.

    • Well we don't really know what is 'top rated' in the US, do we.

      But for example, right now, we are halfway through season 6 of The Amazing Race. I got frustrated with this, and downloaded the rest of the season, and the first 6 episodes of season 7. God knows if season 7 will ever be shown here, and if so, when.

      We're only just getting season 16 of the simpsons, also. At least that has a little bit less lag than the other tv shows.
    • There are far more high rating American programs the British ones. The current top twenty are all American or Australian. "Desperate Housewives" and "Lost" are the current heavy hitters with various CSI variants continuing to have a solid impact too. Data for the last ratings period [].
    • Hmm.. As an Australian living in the US, I don't understand how Americans can put up with the terrible remake of the otherwise hillarious British comedy - The Office.

      On the other hand, I wish I could find torrents of Kath & Kim... I guess there isn't much international demand for extraordinarily localizsed Australian comedy.
    • The commercial networks in Australia show, pretty much exclusively, US and local content. I could probably count the number of UK shows shown on commercial tv here in a year on one hand.

      One of the two government stations shows almost entirely European and Asian content; the other shows mostly BBC & ITV content, along with local content. The combined rating share of these two stations is (off the top of my head) something like 10-15% (and would probably be a hell of a lot lower if it weren't for The Bi []
    • On the commercial networks like Channel 7, 9 and 10 most of our content is Amercian, not British. If you watch the ABC (govt controlled and owned) you get more British content. And no ads in the shows.
  • Typical (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Heem ( 448667 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:45AM (#12141263) Homepage Journal
    Typical Corporate response: Fight the technology, instead of the real issue. Lets say they can defeat the torrent, then what? You have to fight every other method of downloading the episode, and then just for fun lets say they succeed at that, you'd have to fight someone in another country sending someone a tape of the episode.

    The correct answer is: If this is truly affecting your business, then you need to provide the customer with what they want, in a way that will allow you to realize a profit. Get the episodes on in a timely fashion, and they will watch.
    • Re:Typical (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mystik ( 38627 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:58AM (#12141327) Homepage Journal
      If Aussie tv is anything like American tv, you must remember one important thing.

      You are not the customer.

      The advertisers are.

      It suddenly becomes apparent that they *are* doing what the customers want: namely, full control of the distribution channel.
      • However, if they don't get viewers, they don't get advertisers. If people use BitTorrent to get shows they want to watch because they won't show these tv shows, then tough to the networks.
      • Re:Typical (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ed_Moyse ( 171820 )
        Yes, but why does it have to be this way - all the TV companies want is to make money, so if they get it from us buying downloadable content, rather than from advertisers, who cares?

        I think it's incredible how short-sighted these companies are being... there was a story a while ago about how Sony want to make an iTunes for movies. THIS is the future - give the pilot episodes away for free, use an iTunes-esque DRM, and make people pay a small fee for the actual episodes.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    These spinoff shows are getting more and more ridiculous.

    Still...could be a winning combination. The desperate housewives lost on a deserted island slowly getting killed one by one, interspaced with plenty of swimming in lagoons in bikini scenes. Any TV execs out there listening?
  • If it takes 30 years for a prog to reach alpha centauri surely Ozzies can wait 8 months. And you call us Poms whingers! Join the bloody queue mate.
  • Hopefully there is some entrepreneuring Aussie television network that understands this market and can use their leverage as a broadcaster to quickly get this media to those that demand it. Or they could be non-capitalists and just complain about this and ask for legislation, but I wouldn't expect a business to do this... C'mon boy's, go get 'em! There's gold in them hills!
  • Broadcatching (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alien Venom ( 634222 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:47AM (#12141280) Homepage
    There are a number of articles that describe a process known as "broadcatching." Basically it uses RSS feeds from certan TV torrent sites and a BitTorrent client. EnGadget [] has an article describing this, and how to do it. It's what I do and I don't even live outside of the US! Shows usually come out an hour or two before they broadcast in my local area, which means, for example, I can download the HDTV version of my favorite show (without commercials) and finish watching it even before it starts in my time zone. Amazing!
  • And not just TV (Score:4, Informative)

    by Petrushka ( 815171 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:47AM (#12141281)

    Movies too. Some of the most interesting movies get released at the same time world-wide, but for others we're up to six months behind the northern hemisphere - I'm in NZ, not Australia, but the problem is similar.

    In the case of NZ, though, there is an extra obstacle in the form of a telecommunications monopoly keeping a stranglehold on all ISPs so that all broadband accounts are capped -- usually at 10 GB per month -- though some allow downloads beyond that limit, only at dial-up speeds. This means that downloading isn't quite as viable an option here as it is in Australia.

    • Re:And not just TV (Score:3, Informative)

      by Chuq ( 8564 )
      What's really stupid, is that they are showing American Idol (whatever the current US series is) in Australia. Why, I have no idea. But they can't show programs like 24 and Lost?
  • by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:47AM (#12141282) Homepage Journal
    If Canadians weren't largely capable of getting American satelite signals on the grey and black markets for the last 2 decades then chances are we could have wound up in a similar pickle where if CTV or CBC or Global didn't pick up a show, we'd simply not be able to see it for months. Although Canadian cable and satellite offer ABC, NBC, and CBS the primary US Networks, and have for decades. Thank goodness for geography.

    Anyway, as far as Bit torrent goes, I don't think Australia will be the first country to authorize it's TV stations to go with Bit torrent "broadcasting". I predict it will be a Scandanavian country that will break the mold, and pave the way for TV distribution for the next 5 years before the next best thing comes along.
  • by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:49AM (#12141286)
    The West Wing is currently stalled about halfway through Season Five in Australia on free-to-air. The last episode of Season Six screens in the US this coming week. The channel that has the rights over here won't even state whether it's coming back at all, let along when. Pay TV (cable or satellite) isn't a solution - one cable channel is currently screening repeats of Season One). In addition, I own the first four seasons on DVD and intend to purchase S5 and S6 on DVD as soon as they become available. So, you'll just have to pardon me for not feeling particularly guilty about having seen ripped episodes that are yet to air down here.
    • You think one and a bit seasons is bad..

      Ch9 are still showing old Frasier, I bought the final season (s11) on DVD from Amazon, and downloaded s10 (its not available on DVD yet)

      Ch9 are still showing s9. Thats 2 and a bit seasons behind.

  • Delay (Score:2, Interesting)

    mainly because the networks there are so slow; programs are at times behind by up to 8 months!

    Or sometimes not at all.

    I don't know what's worse... not getting the shows at all or getting one or two episodes before the network decides to air it at 2am every second Tuesday, which ends up being a repeat anyway. And then finally taking it off the air without even so much as a "Fuck you, we're outta here."

    As an example, it took four years to air two seasons of Scrubs and that was with about six randomly
  • by ilyaaohell ( 866922 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @01:53AM (#12141305)
    I never understood the concept behind either paying for TV show downloads, or for the broadcast networks rejecting the medium. Last I checked, broadcast television access was free. It's free because they show several segments of advertising in the middle of the show. Why would the medium matter to these companies? Why stick with television sets?

    The advantage of downloading stuff is that you can watch it whenever you want. My schedule may not permit me to watch the shows I want. If you give me the same exact show with the same exact ads over the internet, I will gladly watch it! With the ads! I don't give a damn about the show not being ad-free, and I don't give a damn about them even developing a technology preventing you from fast-forwarding past the advertising. I'll watch the damn advertising, just like I watch it on TV. Just let me watch the damn show at the computer if the need strikes me! You lose NOTHING. Even if someone does fast-forward through the commercials, someone else will watch the same file TWICE, thus increasing their exposure to the advertising. Is this not an acceptable trade-off?
    • by RocketRainbow ( 750071 ) <rocketgirl&myrealbox,com> on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:28AM (#12141473) Homepage Journal
      The above comment is not insightful!

      Here is the real model for TV distribution and why your proposal doesn't work:

      1. Some studio makes a TV show.
      2. They sell it to national TV channels who distribute it to their local broadcasters
      3. Local and national advertisers pay the local and national TV stations to run the show.

      Now if you were to watch over the Intermanet, it wouldn't have the same local ads in it, now, would it?
      Perhaps the TV could advertise - "Did you miss a show? Watch it streaming on!" and you could get your own ads for porno and fireworks (or whatever sells in your local area). But then the USA channels are going to be mighty miffed that you're robbing them of their potential viewers by broadcasting this stuff on the Intermanet. As are the local distributers in Finland, for example.

      But most of all, the people who actually make and sell the TV show are going to be highly dubious about changing their distribution model in this way.

      Actually I think it's silly. Given that an hour of your time spent watching ads costs about $1, you'd think you could just pay the people who make the stuff $1 for every hour of TV you watch over your computer using their streamer-viewer or some login account or who knows what. Porno manages to sell just videos and many of them keep in business, so why can't the TV people sell videos?

      But simply expecting TV channels to take the feed you would have got and stick it on the internet is not going to work. How many times did you watch it? What targeted ads did you see? The advertisers aren't going to pay for this loss of control. Local streamed downloads seem easier, but there will be licensing issues as the internet broadcaster tries to convince all the other broadcasters that it's still worth them buying in (the studio will not be convinced that the internet broadcaster will make more money than all the world's TV channels).

      Please remember that you are not the customers of this industry - you are consumers whose behaviour is legislated for the economic benefit of the TV channels and advertisers. They are going to do what works best for them and you are going to comply or else. Disagree? Don't watch TV!
  • The title is a bit misleading in its current form , after reading the artical i find that it should be "Aussie TV Networks sit around doing little ".
    This is a world wide phenominon and i personaly download some TV shows , One simple fact why i do it here ,German TV dubs programs and i hate dubbing(that and i dont own a TV anymore though i do have access to one if needed).

    Its more than just the fact the TV shows are not broadcast in a region in a timely fashion or that they want an origional show when they want it .
    DVD-/+R/rw and CD-r/rw are far cheaper than comparitive vhs tapes , Having the show exactly when you want it without having to worry about setting the recorder (etc) is relaxing ,People hate adverts (20 minute shows that last 45 minutes due to 25 minutes of intersperced Crap for things that i do'nt need or want and am less likely to buy after being forced to view the tripe that they purvay) and finaly its just so dammed cool at the moment ( i ran out of good reasons).
  • too bad... (Score:2, Insightful)

    that other English speaking countries are unable to make their own TV shows and must therefore import everything from the US (especially stuff like the West Wing).

    Not that the US would run their shows (except rarely on PBS) , but maybe they could make something successful at home.

    The beacon of Western civilization.
  • I would LOVE to be able to download content from other countries - mostly from Spain, Italy and Norway, but I just can't. Can't find much content.

    It's really pretty easy to find torrents of shows produced here in the US, but what about shows produced in Europe (or anywhere else, for that matter)? I have been able to find BBC shows and other British specials, but non-English is few and far between.

    Granted, I'm probably in the minority, but people looking for U.S.-based content have it pretty good compa

  • by xixax ( 44677 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:09AM (#12141384)
    SF television programs have never been treated seriously by the television stations here in Australia. Babylon 5 was initially shown *out* *of* *order* and the "Footy Show" would routinely displace following SF shows by up to half an hour because the show was running over time. When I was a kid, it took several summer holidays to *never* see the entire television adaptation of "The Tripods" because the station would just pull the series when regular programming returned. Even now, any SF series that do screen are on late at night, and delays of more than a season are common (i.e. Buffy, Ange, X-Files). This delay means the Internet is loaded with spoilers.

    For these reasons, we would originally get friends to send video tapes from the USA. For these reasons, a lot of people now use the file transfer technology du-jour (Napseter, BitTorrent, Direct Connect, whatever) to grab shows.

    As the networks have for a very long time shown that they do not value SF programming, they have absolutely no sympathy from me. If the shows had screened in a timely manner, not been relegated to graveyard slots and not been chopped and changed, people would have not bothered with all this effort and just watched live to air. And I'd get cable TV if it was any good, try getting a cable package that *doesn't* include sport and a bunch of other junk I don't want). If we got to keep SBS and ABC, I'd gladly sacrifice the lot to the FTA as I am bloody well sick of lifestyle and reality shows.
    • by boldra ( 121319 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @07:36AM (#12142386) Homepage
      You hit on one of the main issues here: spoilers. I just started watching BSG - downloaded via P2P because I'm in Germany. Now that I've finished watching the first series I can actually talk about the show with American friends and read American blogs. Previously I ran the risk of having the thing ruined because someone accidentally gave away a plot element. The Broadcasters need to realise that the "global village" is causing their products to depreciate if they keep them on the shelves. It's not so much that they're losing customers because of episode downloads, they're losing cusomters because of modern communications!
  • The Real Heroes (Score:5, Interesting)

    by michaeldot ( 751590 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:11AM (#12141390)
    I think the real unsung heroes of this are the kind souls who actually do the capture and encoding, ready for the torrents to start flying about the world.

    Case in point: Doctor Who: The End of the World

    The most recent Doctor Who aired 7:00 pm Saturday night, UK time. By Sunday morning, Australian time, there were enough torrent seeds to have it a high quality 350MB DivX on my hard drive in less than an hour.

    Given the 11 hour time zone difference, that's a very quick turnaround, and a very professional piece of capture and encoding. I don't know who originally sourced it (not even an ugly watermark to quench his/her ego!), but my warm thanks to you. There's no sign of the local broadcaster acquiring it for at least the next 6 months.
  • by trawg ( 308495 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:12AM (#12141393) Homepage
    This is a complete non-surprise to anyone in Australia that a) wants to watch TV and b) is aware of this Internet thingo and c) has heard of BitTorrent.

    Not only do we often have to wait months, if not years to actually GET a series (assuming its not exclusive to one of the cable TV services, which STILL aren't available in many areas), they often find ways to screw them up.


    - Season one of Scrubs was shown by one of the networks. Season two started - six episodes into the season, if I recall correctly.

    - Desperate Housewives just returned last night, after a three week break because there was something else on the networks wanted to cover

    When you can download the entire season (probably in HDTV) and watch it without ads and without having to wait weeks for the networks to get their shit together (and without having to pay AU$60/month on cable, if you can even get it, which I can't, whine!), its not surprising.

    (Add me to the list of people that would happily, ecstatically, and joyfully shell out money to buy fairly priced xvid/divx versions of US TV shows that I simply can't watch over here - shit, I'd probably then go and buy them on DVD as well)
  • No bloody wonder! (Score:3, Informative)

    by askegg ( 599634 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:34AM (#12141506)
    The reason we download TV shows here is simple - the networks don't have their shit together!

    The world according to Networks Australia:

    The TV guides are just that - a rough guide to what we think we might be airing, but don't take it as gospel, we will alter it at a moments notice and air your favorite programs at 3 in the morning when we suddenly discover every other crap has been played 4 times already.

    When we do play a season, we will constantly move its time slot and play them back to back to finish it when the footy season starts.

    Once we discover a program that earns good ratings we will repeat it at every opportunity and buy all the spins offs and flog them to death until you are sick of it. See CSI as a good example.

    We will try new program material at 11pm when nobody is watching. When it starts to build a following we will move it to 4:15am every time the planets align. When you find it again we'll axe it citing poor ratings.

    I am sick of trying to find my favorite programs (what the fuck happened to West Wing?) and decided to download them and watch them whenever I have the time or inclination. (side note - we have Tivo type technology that will automatically record shows I like whenever they are on - dammit).

    Stop bitching about the customer and give them what they want!
  • by ockegheim ( 808089 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @02:43AM (#12141548)

    I've been ordering DVDs of my favourite shows on Amazon. This is technically illegal and costs me money. Pshaw!

  • by planet-sloop ( 772745 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @03:01AM (#12141611)
    We don't download them to watch. As part of the free trade agreement between the US and Australia, we are providing you with off-shore storage in case of disaster.

    Its all about disaster recovery these days and being the caring nation, we're just trying to do our part.
  • by Anand_S ( 638598 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @03:06AM (#12141639)
    According to an independent study, it takes an average of four months to watch the latest episodes of top-rated shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives. Four months is impressive. It would take me much longer to make it through an episode of "Desperate Housewives."
  • by johnw ( 3725 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @03:28AM (#12141709)
    it takes an average of four months to watch the latest episodes of top-rated shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives

    No, no, no. It just seems like four months when you're watching it.
  • by mikeplokta ( 223052 ) on Tuesday April 05, 2005 @05:31AM (#12142085)
    Other countries have to run behind the US due the the insane American custom of spreading 22 new episodes out over 44 weeks (or thereabouts), and alternating a few new episodes, then a few reruns. No other country's TV-watching population would tolerate this, so they can't start to show a series until it's already been running in the US for six months, to ensure that they can actually show a 22 episode season over 22 weeks.

The unfacts, did we have them, are too imprecisely few to warrant our certitude.