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Friday, February 05, 2010


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Just Some Guy

Looks like a great show. And yes it is truly mind-bogglingly backward that a show about modern connectivity is so disconnected. :\

Prad Prathivi

The BBC is funded by the UK taxpayers through a license fee, and various programmes are often shown abroad when other networks purchase the rights to broadcast them. As the BBC doesn't show advertisements on its network, it's not silly that they limit their shows to the UK at all. We pay the tax, hence we watch the shows =)

If you get lucky, they might put it on BBC America soon. Either way, the way of the internet means you can usually find these shows lurking around online.


What Prad said...

You think that US networks don't block us here in the UK from watching their shows? As far as the Beeb go there are rumblings that their programming might be available on iPlyer internationally but, outside of the UK, you'll have to pay to view.


Exactly Jovin. There have been times I wanted to view content on a US news channel or other website showing video, but popups come up saying only viewable in the US.

Saffia Widdershins

Yes - it works the same way. If I wanted to watch an episode of Mad Men ahead of it being shown in the UK, the AMC site will obligingly tell me I can't co I'm not in the right country.

And although it may seem sad that this applies to a show about inconnectivity, I guess they can't really break the software for one programme. Just urge someone your side of the pond to buy it (although I suspect it may end up on BBC America).

soror nishi

I saw the first episode and found it a great history lesson on the origins of where we are now...altho...she does pose a lot..:))

Tateru Nino

I've done many interviews with the BBC. Never seen the results of any of them :)


Well, is it legal in this case to use Bittorrent to view the show? It is available here: http://thepiratebay.org/torrent/5323942/The.Virtual.Revolution.S01E01.HDTV.XviD-FTP


Uhm, so this blog will host links to stolen TV - what's next, copybotted SL content links? That's a bit critical in the hypo way...

Saffia Widdershins

I think the short answer, Pivo, is that it is illegal to do that.


show looks good. but as stated, "encouraged too many to work for free" or "is that get stuff for free?" as well..

yes. we should pay or wait to see it... such is reality . such is the cost of journalism and the rewards as well.

Hamlet Au

"You think that US networks don't block us here in the UK from watching their shows?"

Of course they do, but they're for-profit corporations that want to control their revenue stream. The BBC is a publicly-financed entity which is also one of Britain's most well-known brands, and the nation stands to gain in all kinds of ways by making its content widely available throughout the world. In any case, they already do that in other mediums -- you can access the BBC website and written content on it from all over, you can hear BBC Radio programming from all over. Why make that content open, while selectively blocking their video content? It's inconsistent.

Saffia Widdershins

They are selling the prgrammes. They also have subsiduaries that they place programmes on, like BBC America and BBC Europe, which have their own business models.

When you say the BBC is publicly-funded, it's publicly funded by the UK public, not by the world.

The licence fee we pay is not cheap; it's a form of tax paid by everyone watching TV or watching the BBC i-player (even if they don't have a television). That - and the sales of TV programmes - fund the free content that the BBC supplies - although there have been debates in Parliament about whether the BBC is giving away too much. Therefore they are eager to maximise the sales of content where they can.

I'm not sure what ways you think Britain will gain from having BBC television programmes freely available throughout the world, funded by the UK public rather than funded by overseas sales.

Hamlet Au

The BBC is one of the UK's best advertisements for itself, the nation's ingenuity and values, and the more its content is propagated internationally, the more Britian becomes a thought leader in the world. And yes, it's a great potential revenue source for the UK too. This Internet documentary should be playing on Hulu or another similar site raking in ad dollars from US tech companies *right now*. The Beeb will probably get around to syndicating it eventually, but the program loses its relevance and value with every passing day Auntie doesn't.

Prad Prathivi

My reply started getting rather long, but the barebones is that the BBC legally can't show the programme outside the UK.. it has a charter and everything for this kind of thing. Also, in answer to your other questions:


Hamlet Au

Prad, I know about the charter, but charters can be changed, especially if the BBC higher-ups advocate for them. I recently had a long frustrating talk with another friend at the BBC -- it's a very conservative, ossified bureaucracy with lots of major players unwilling to adjust to the Internet era, while younger staffers pull their hair out at the missed opportunities. It's not just this show. There's decades and decades of awesome, essential, historically important BBC reportage that's sitting in their vaults, inaccessible online. The British taxpayer doesn't benefit from that, neither does anyone else.

Bryony C.

I understand the problems and I do think a lot of BBC programmes ought to be made available to other countries. However, as Prad said in his blog, we Brits pay our TV licence so we can watch and listen to BBC TV and radio.
We pay good money for what Auntie Beeb produces, so we've earned the right to first dibs to see it. :-)



Digital Nation, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/digitalnation/view/#
aired the 1st installment on Tuesday (2/2)(90 minutes). What is very cool about this Frontline series was that it was a website for over a year, airing film clips, asking for comments, asking for contributions of content. This episode has a nice treatment of Second Life and Phil, BTW.

and we need more William Kamkwambahttps ://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/11/03/malawi.wind.boy/index.html

and people to donate to http://laptop.org/en/

and time for me to learn to embed a url here.

LOVE these types of discussions.


Saffia Widdershins

There's a lot of great BBC TV we would all like to see again, and the BBC is trying to make more available online. But there are huge issues - like payment fees. A lot of the ways of distribution weren't even dreamed of when the product was made - so sorting all that out is a major issue. Take a real quality series like Edge of Darkness, made in the 1980s. There's actors, crew, production ... getting it onto DVD is easy in comparison - and it is taking years for everything to be sorted out for that. Streaming over the internet raises a slew of issues.

And that is shown by the fact that it's the same for us trying to watch American programmes, or listen to music services like Pandora. They haven't sorted it yet, either.


Most people have already detailed the BBC's standing here - nicely, too.

I think that to sum up, the BBC is funded by the license fee, paid by UK residents, which funds TV projects directly and has also gone to fund ventures (as decreed by its remit) in radio, news and digital content. It sells its programmes to other countries but under guidelines I couldn't begin to speculate upon. The important part is that the BBC cannot channel money it gathered through a tax towards projects which earn it money, or else the British commercial stations would be in uproar - the likes of ITV and Five don't have the luxury of a License Fee to fund their commerce; it has to come from advertising alone. That is why it cannot sell programmes individually.

And yes, I too am sick of being told that I can watch the latest episode of something or to watch a news clip only to be region-locked by Hulu. But the fact is the BBC has done a lot for digital TV and other technology like the sheer virtue of the iPlayer by force of its remit. I think they've done pretty well, far from seeming backwards.

So ner - I'm gonna go and enjoy this programme that I have partly funded, just as American viewers can enjoy stuff they've had to sit through commercials for. :P

Hamlet Au

It's interesting that British commenters keep explaining why the BBC has a policy of not distributing its video content internationally, without acknowledging that the policy is inconsistent with how it distributes text and audio content, or more importantly, that existing policies can be changed. My impression is that they're not explaining the Beeb's existing prohibitions (contradictory as they are), so much as *defending* them. Not a criticism, as I'm not a UK taxpayer, but I do have to say it's hard for me to understand this perspective.

Because here's the underlying fact: While it's true UK taxpayers subsidize BBC programming, they will not in the slightest lose that benefit if people outside the UK get to fully enjoy that content online too. This is actually a very important principle to understand about how the Internet in general distributes content -- and something that record and film companies failed to comprehend early on, to their detriment. In a somewhat similar way, the UK taxpayer stands to benefit from Beeb film and video programming going far and wide online -- increased tourism, bolstered public relations, amplified significance on the world stage in political and economic negotiations, etc. etc. Sorry, I'm just not seeing how they or the BBC stands to gain from maintaining their prohibitive policies, other than the attenuated satisfaction of saying, "It's ours, we paid for it, so we won't let you look at it."


Shes Great is Aleks, some of us brits might remember her as being one of the 3 chicks on channel fours Bitz video games series 10 years ago..... as you can see from this youtubevideo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6mcf9t3GFw

Lowell Cremorne

Although it would be only one factor, given the fact the BBC is government funded and that funding is more than finite, I would have thought bandwidth costs would have to play a role if a worldwide rollout occurred. That adds a lot of cost with less offset from DVD sales etc.

Nexii Malthus

Speaking as a british resident, I fully and absolutely agree on your points Hamlet.

It makes sense, you just gotta look the well-earned reputation that BBC has, and this reputation fully falls back on the country itself, one of those rare occasion where stereotypes in societies play an effective role.

Ever since I stepped foot on the BBC website, I kept wondering at the interesting effects that the online distribution of the articles had.

I think the general attitude of "It's ours, we paid for it." is just your usual greed in humanity within us all. The issue just needs better awareness and exposure to show the good spotlight of digital distribution, then the attitude falls aside. (albeit replaced for the bigger greed for reputation, which I cringe at the thought of, but it is a good trade-off since it is REALLY a win-win situation for everyone)

Torrid Luna

Are we not Avatars? Go to the 3D Documentary Explorer, both episodes are freely viewable from there.

Arcadian Vanalten

LOL, and then there are those who are simply accustomed to instant gratification and want what they want rightthisinstant and feel thusly entitled.

I'm intrigued by her work and am looking forward to checking it out when it's released for us over here. If she's actually hit on something solid, it'll still be relevant in a few weeks or months or years, even.

And I thought *I* was bad about snooping under the Xmas tree...

Henri Beauchamp

To work around BBC's stupid region restrictions, simply use a proxy in UK, or a TOR exit node in UK.
Adding the following lines to your torrc configuration file and restarting TOR will allow you to view the video:

#UK nodes for BBC region-restricted material:
ExitNodes Gerkin,node13,Persepolis,000000000000haven,ephemer2,GZero,PPrivComUK
ExitNodes UKORrelay,Lockstock,TorNet1,tormfaelixnet,TheHomeOffice
ExitNodes MindControl,PartTimeAnonymizer,colinwillsdorkyahoo
# Force the exit nodes to the above list:
StrictExitNodes 1
# Prevent TOR from changing its exit node during the same session:
TrackHostExits .


People outside the UK who want to see the show can do so with a proxy server or steal the content from a torrent tracker. And that to me is the biggest revolution of the internet age; gate keeping is no longer tenable.

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Wagner James Au
Wagner James "Hamlet" Au
Dutchie Evergreen Slideshow 29112021
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