Doctor Who? One small step towards innovation


This opinion piece was co-authored by the Pirate Party Australia’s David Campbell (President) and Mozart Olbrycht-Palmer (Deputy Secretary). It originally appeared on the website of the Pirate Party Australia and was published under a Creative Commons licence.

opinion Following the ABC’s announcement that it will be streaming timely content from the new series of Dr Who, I applaud the broadcaster for moving with public demand and technological advancements.

I am very pleased to see a publicly funded broadcaster moving with society rather than against it. The ABC has recognised the demand for global release dates to be brought closer together. If more broadcasters (and content rights holders) could recognise this demand and innovate within the marketplace, as the ABC has done, the issues of fans wanting content available in a timely fashion would no longer be a concern.

Instead of attacking fans with litigation, or lobbying governments to restrict our civil rights, we need to move with new technology and innovate within the global market. Old media broadcasters cannot afford to flounder or their place will be taken by new content suppliers who have adapted to the changing environment.

When fans of a television show can share high definition “pirate” recordings with the other side of the world within hours of the initial broadcast, Australian fans find it difficult to understand why it takes weeks, months or even years for a television show to reach our shores. In a globally connected society, where peer groups span the world, creating ubiquitous word-of-mouth demand and discussing popular content and culture, the lack of availability often results in infringement of the established copyright monopoly.

This is also where commercial pirates move in and secure sections of the market. Where copyright holders delay the accessibility of content, an ad-sponsored website is already generating a profit by providing this content. If something appears on The Pirate Bay before you make it available, you’re doing something wrong. Ad-sponsored sites are able to turn a profit, and this is something perhaps the content industry needs to recognise – that new technologies provide opportunities to change business models and innovate.

Every major technological advancement to broadcast and reproduction technology has been initially resisted, only to prove to be boons for media creators and broadcasters alike. There was resistance to the VCR and claims that “home taping is killing music.” Until this new technology is embraced, instead of condemned, it will continue to be a cheap excuse to destroy our rights.

Successfully enforcing copyright the way it currently exists requires wholesale invasion of privacy and will erode copyright exceptions vital to our cultural lives. We can’t expect citizens to accept being spied on, by copyright holders or Internet service providers, just to protect the profits of businesses and individuals who are too slow or are refusing to adapt. We have also seen a curbing of legitimate uses through the abuse of takedown notices, which have even been used to remove public domain content.

While the visual quality of the ABC’s iView system is a poor comparison to pirated high definition copies, this is still a small step in the right direction. The more encouragement the ABC and other broadcasters here and abroad receive, the faster things will improve for audiences, creators and broadcasters.

Image credit: BBC


  1. Before people start bitching that David Tennant is not the current Doctor, let me make you aware that there will be no pictures of that imposter Matt Smith posted on this website.

    • Your call, Renai, but personally I think Matt Smith’s characterisation echoes that of Tom Baker more than David Tennant’s did.

      And, of course, growing up in the late 70s / early 80s, Tom Baker *is* Doctor Who…

    • Dear Renai,

      I’d like to point you to the comments policy of this website, in particular the section as such:

      •Comments which display a lack of rationality or reasonableness. For example, a number of commenters on Delimiter over the past year have engaged in the debate, but consistently avoided acknowledging substantive issues raised by other commenters in relation to their argument. Instead, they have deliberately diverted the discussion down another path, annoying many other commenters.
      •Comments which inject demonstratably false information into the debate (for example: “Fibre broadband only offers speeds up to 50Mbps”). Often I will leave these be, if other readers correct the record. But if it’s done consistently, it’s a problem.

      Be aware that continued transgressions of this policy may mean you are banned for a period, or even permanently.

      Sif any of the new Doctors hold a candle to Tom Baker…


  2. I was very happy to watch on iView Sunday morning. Bring on the NBN and a better quality of streaming but it’s definitely a win in my opinion.

    • Yeah, HD would be nice, but this option is so much better than anything else on offer in this country that it’s absolutely fine for now. I’ve no doubt that the ABC plans to upgrade to at least 720p at some point (success stories like yesterday’s Doctor Who will help with that).

  3. I’m gonna go out on a limb and risk a grilling…

    David Tennant was my favourite Doctor and I never thought I’d like Matt Smith….but I do and he’s now the best Dr Who…

    *ducks for cover*

    • Smith is good in his own way, but I don’t see how a clumsy dithering pseudo-old-man with the occasional pissweak rage attack holds a candle to Tennant’s deep fury, bonkers energy and overwhelming charisma. When Tennant walked into frame, he instantly owned the frame. When Smith walks into frame, you’d be forgiven for not even noticing.

      • That’s my point Adam. Tennant’s deep fury was not the Doctor in my eyes. He got arrogant, you know ‘The Doctor Victorious’? That was his downfall. Smith’s portrayal to me is the antithesis almost of Tennant. He knows he is the Doctor and how powerful he can be, it he fights it, because that isn’t who the Doctor is. The Doctor HELPS, he doesn’t wage war. Than is what the whole Smith portrayal is about to me.

        Don’t get me wrong, I love Tennant as the Doctor. He was who got me back into it after the reboot ( didn’t like Chris much). But to me, the Doctor is Smith’s Silky, but wise, helpful but angry, fierce and loyal, but not arrogant.

        Anyways, it’s all personal preference anyway. :-)

        • I see your point, and I agree that there’s a degree of personal preference, but Tennant was better, and I can prove it with science.

          • Tom Baker could command a scene with something like:

            “I have never been more serious in my life. Jelly baby?”

            Tennant is the only other doctor that could get away with instant swings like that. Matt Smith does it the other way around, being a clown before injecting that one serious comment at the end.

            In the end, each one had their own charms. Except McCoy. I think we can all agree that he was the only actually BAD doctor…

          • McCoy got better over time, and his Doctor was allowed to mature, but the poor bloke couldn’t do anger. There’s a particularly embarrassing scene in Ghost Light. Just awful.

          • In fact (and I’m *really* getting my dork on here), the Virgin novels turned him into something fierce, formidable and worthwhile. After reading those, going back to the 1987 series is painful.

  4. As far as the ABC actually responding to viewer desires is concerned, I think this is a great move and one that I hope will pay off in proving a point: that is, that there may be measurably less pirating as a result of being able to access the latest shows quickly. This would provide some much needed ammunition against the Policy Makers who insist that we are all corrupt thugs because we don’t want to play their game anymore.

    PS I think Tennant was the best!
    But I do like the new bloke as well.


    If that’s not the best argument for giving people what they want when they want it, I don’t know what is. It also seems to prove something I’ve believed for a while, making something available ad free and immediately isn’t going to kill your commercial audience. The massive number of iView views only accounted for 10% of regular viewers.

  6. Hopefully more content producers will realise that they need to either go direct or pressure their overseas content partners to make things available more quickly. This is a great move by both the BBC and ABC. Hopefully HBO, with the recent annoucement of their streaming-only HBO Nordic service might get with the program here in Australia as well.

  7. Just like to correct something, is more like minutes than hours for a tv show to be available through usenet/torrents. I know there would be an uproar if breaking bad was more than 5 minutes late on my private tracker.

    • meh. if you really need to point this out, then you need to take a course in delayed-gratification. In fact, sign up for the course, then wait a week before you start the lessons.

      If you are seriously unable to engage in some other part of your life while your TBs fill up with media to be watched then forgotten, there really is little hope.

      If you are currently a sufferer of the dreaded Locked-In Syndrome / The Boy In The Bubble, please ignore.

      BTW Even though Tom Baker was the Dr of my youth, I have found each of the iterations to be engaging in their own ways, but Tennant WAS cranky…

  8. Great job ABC, really enjoyed watching on Sunday been a fan since the first Dr Who episode aired on ABC in the 60’s .Not sure why so many people are hung up on Iview not being Hi-def (maybe not here so much but for sure on Whirlpool) it looked great on my 47″ LCD and the surely it’s the content not the resolution that is of most importance.

    • Because the Hi-Def versions usually come with 5.1DD Surround sound which add’s a huge amount to the atmosphere and enjoyment of the show.

      Considering most folk these days have HTIB’s or better, there is imo no excuse for “broadcasters” of any type not providing HD Video with proper 5.1DD Surround sound.

      • PS. HTIB = Home Theatre in Box (they start at around $299)

        To expand on the technical requirements for 5.1DD (Dolby Digital), DVD’s containing 5.1DD use between 384kbps and 444kbps of bandwidth, which is not very much for discrete 5.1 channel Surround sound.

    • @Richard

      It’s certainly fantastic that ABC got this together. But, I’ve actually purposefully waited for the SD version on TV this Sat, because it really is that much better on my 46″ LCD. And the 720 versions I’ve “downloaded” (*cough*torrented*cough*) to watch after seeing them before on ABC in SD was SO much better again.

      iView is great and I understand why they can’t do HD or even 720 (just too expensive for a public station) but I wish they could. The difference is like night and day :)

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