Doctor Who goes back in time to beat TV pirates

Some people just can’t wait. Delaying syndicated broadcasts of TV shows to overseas territories often gives eager viewers a window in which to download unauthorised episodes encoded in their country of origin.

But now Australian broadcaster ABC is aiming to beat the pirates by satisfying demand from one of the most avid groups of fans.

It will place online episodes of the upcoming seventh series of Doctor Who just 50 minutes after they end up in the UK (announcement).

Although the September 1 season opener won’t air on Australian television until September 8, by placing the episodes on its iview catch-up service just after UK transmission ends, ABC will eliminate the week-long opportunity pirated copies have previously had to gain viewer share.

Typically, shows are added to catch-up services only after their broadcasters’ linear TV transmission.

ABC1 controller Brendan Dahill (via

“Piracy is wrong, as you are denying someone their rights and income for their intellectual property. The fact that it is happening is indicative that as broadcasters we are not meeting demand for a segment of the population.

“So as broadcasters we need to find convenient ways of making programs available via legal means to discourage the need for piracy.”

Of course, this won’t stop ripped encodings from being made or circulated. But ABC, by super-serving Doctor Who fans (the episodes will go online at 5.10am on a Sunday following UK transmission), will likely gather to its official channel an audience renowned for wanting to see its favourite show as soon as possible.

ABC has previously experimented with placing its legal drama, Rake, on iview before TV transmission. “This is the first time a big blockbuster TV show will air in full on an Australian online player within hours of its official release elsewhere.”