Why Are Broadcasters Trying To Break The Internet?


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!

Thing is, the internet has this thing called a proxy server, where a site can be fooled into thinking a user is from somewhere else, and for those pesky ads Firefox has a plugin called AdBlock Plus.

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.


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4 responses to “Why Are Broadcasters Trying To Break The Internet?”

  1. Boardcasters and telcos are dumb as shit… it’s a fact. The higher up the chain you look, the older and dumber execs get, I know this first hand. By the time a good idea bubbles up from the bottom to a “decider”, couple of years have passed and it’s no longer new.

    The funny thing is that idiots still haven’t clued in that internet, might it be resembling “tubes”, has very, very many of those “tubes” all leading to the same thing.

    Having distribution rights different for countries goes to illustrate just how stupid those people really are. And it’s not a kitten getting scared by a mirror cute kind of stupid, it’s a door knob, DRM, content encrypting kind of mental retardation. Trying to hold on to the model that has failed many years ago and was proven to never, ever, ever work takes special kind of morons… how they all end up holding executive posts is a mistery to me.

    I stopped buying DVDs all together. If i payed to see a movie in a theater, I fail to see why I should have to pay for the same movie on a different medium… so I just download it in all of it’s glorious HD… for free.

    So if you missed that daily show… forget about comedycentral.com or their stupid partners — just go to pirate bay and get a copy completely commercial free.

  2. Hey Alex,

    Having worked in old media in a previous life I might hesitate to use the term “retarded”, but I’m totally fine with any combination of “myopic”, “lazy”, “arrogant”, “clueless”, etc.

    Clearly those in charge of such things are clinging for dear life to their old ways of doing business, but most reasonable people understand that trying to carve up the planet into different, isolated markets is 20th-century thinking and simply won’t work.

    As for blatant piracy it would be a last resort for me. But I’m no fan of DRM, either…

  3. Why are Broadcasters trying to break the internet? Because the Internet is going to destroy them unless they play with it properly.

    That and a load of really backwards views about rights-management.

  4. AC:

    Hulu, NBC and Fox’s portal, is also blocked in Canada. Fortunately, Saturday Night Live’s site isn’t, so I’ve been able to keep up on Tina Fey’s ascendency to Leader of the Opposition. Strange that Hulu, which streams stuff for free with ads paying for it, isn’t available here, but NBC’s site, which streams stuff for free with ads paying for it, isn’t.

    The TV folks have joined the music industry in trying to fight the internet, which I find ironic given you can obtain their products with a pair of rabbit ears and watch stuff for free with ads paying for it.

    In the 50’s, record companies capitalized on AM radio, and in the 60’s, on FM radio, to build the music industry into a cash cow–airplay meant record sales, so the music was freely available (with ads paying for it).

    Today’s content creators have forgotten this model completely.

    If I ran a network, I’d make all programs free for downloading as one-file torrents with the commercial breaks left complete with the ads. I’d charge the advertisers for that privilege, naturally, and I’d probably have the best overall viewership numbers (I’d have to come up with better shows, but that’s for another blog entry…).


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