In the same way that DVD region-coding has no place in this, the age of Amazon, eBay and unlocked players, television broadcasters have no business trying to restrict their content on the web.
I can illustrate from my own experience with two examples of how they’ve tried and failed:
1. Crossing Streams – I do a lot of my morning newsgathering courtesy of reddit.com, an awesome social bookmarking site run by the good folks at WIRED. Often there’s a link to a poignant Daily Show clip from the night before. But because I live in Canada, when I click through to see the video — or even to their home page for that matter — I get redirected from Comedy Central in the US and A to The Comedy Network in Cana-duh. If you’re also reading this from north of the 49th parallel try it for yourself and see what I mean.
So what’s the big deal, you ask? The very same Daily Show clips are available on both sites, after all…
Well, why exactly is this even necessary in the first place? If ComedyCentral.com is smart enough to figure out that I’m from Canada, surely it can be programmed to include IP addresses from this country as well.
Could it be that there is country-specific advertising that these two networks want to alternately block or force me to see? Wow, that sounds familiar… Kind of like television!
Half-time score: Internet 1, Broadcasters 0.
2. iFailer – BBC’s much-lauded iPlayer was launched on Christmas Day, 2007 to bring the Beeb’s vast catalogue of programming ” to a mass, mainstream audience.” But while streaming radio is offered worldwide, on-demand video is currently UK only, despite most of the very same programming being available on BBC America, BBC Canada and another 20 or so channels around the world.
I have a personal interest in the iPlayer because of a just-announced client for S60 smartphones, but even though my handset gets me online anywhere in the world, you guessed it — the mobile version of iPlayer only works in the original Nanny State.
Of course, I could easily get around this with a Slingbox hooked up to my TV and a mobile client on my handset — not only is it entirely legal, but I can watch any channel I want from anywhere in the world!
Final tally: Internet 2, Broadcasters 0.
Let me be perfectly clear on this: Broadcasters, do not mess with our internet; you will fail. It’s called the World Wide Web for a reason — if you’re not willing to show whatever it is that you’re shilling to a global audience then please get the fuck off and leave us alone. Thank-you.