Wednesday 1 May 2013

Channel 7 is forcing me to become a pirate

Wednesday 1 May 2013
Recently, I started watching Castle. It's a great show. Nathan Fillion is one of my favourite actors and I love the way the relationships between the core cast are playing out.

I've been buying the episodes on iTunes. Season 5 is currently on air, and available through iTunes on a bought a season pass. When I bought the season Sunday week ago, there were only 13 episodes available. This Sunday, there were still only 13 episodes available. Given 20 or 21 episodes had been aired in the US at this point, I fired off a quick email to iTunes asking when the remaining episodes would be available on the season pass.

This is the email I received back - I will give them credit for the very fast response:

"I understand that you have some questions about some missing episodes. I am sure you are eager to have this issue resolved and I would be happy to assist you today!
"When you buy a Season Pass, you will have instant access to all the episodes for that particular season that are available at the time of purchase. In addition, you will receive all subsequent episodes for the season as they become available.
"Apple does not have the schedule release of these episodes nor can we predict when they will be released. It is up to the network."

This response did not provide resolution or solutions to my complaint and instead made me more determined to find out when I could get the remaining episodes of my beloved television show. Channel 7 is the network that screens Castle in Australia. I visited their website, which confirmed they have only aired up to episode 13, and that it was aired on April 7 - almost a month ago. Nothing on the website indicates when the next episode is to be screened.

Next action: a call to Channel 7. Gina, the very cheerful telephone receptionist, informed me that the remaining episodes won't be aired for sometime and therefore won't be pushed to iTunes any time soon.

I have paid $55-ish dollars for the season pass. I am essentially being held to ransom by the network because they are not pushing remaining episodes to iTunes. I can't watch it on free-to-air tv as I don't get Channel 7 at the moment and even if I did, I wouldn't watch it because I their promotional ads insult my intelligence and are sometimes sexist. I hate the bogan-targeted shows Channel 7 constantly promotes - eg My Kitchen Rules and Celebrity Splash.

This is the type of behaviour that significantly disadvantages Australians. The 7 Network has multiple digital channels where they could screen up-to-date shows. How about, instead of rerunning Seinfeld for the 17th time, you air new content? We know that TV shows can be 'fast tracked' from the US to Australia and it's been proven that this proactivity reduces piracy.

There is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that people want timely access to television shows. In this ultra-connected world, delaying tv shows means more people will pirate.

I informed Gina that Channel 7's programming department had made a very poor decision, one that would directly lead to increased piracy.

This also discourages me from purchasing any more season passes from iTunes for shows that are shown on free-to-air TV in Australia. What if they do this again? Why bother when I have to wait because the 23rd rerun of MASH is airing instead of newer, more interesting shows when they are aired in their country of origin? Why spend money for TV shows that are late or never pushed when I can get them for free, like so many others?

I'm wondering there is grounds for a consumer affairs complaint - I've purchased a service on good faith and iTunes, in conjunction with Channel 7, has failed to supply the contracted service in a timely manner. The terms and conditions for a season pass do not state anywhere that the entire series may not be pushed to iTunes.

I replied to iTunes initial response to advise it had left me frustrated. They have placated me with a TV show credit (just one episode, not a whole series) and reinfornced that it is up to the networks when episodes are made available.

Have you used iTunes season pass? Have you been screwed over by a TV network failing to deliver a service? I'm wondering who else has been a victim of this unfair practise?

Meanwhile, I'll be looking for a cutlass and a jaunty eyepatch and sailing the high seas of the interwebs.


Snoskred said...

"But I don't wanna be a pirate!" - Jerry Seinfeld - the puffy shirt.

There is only one show I watch on free to air tv at the moment - Survivor Caramoan which is being fastracked so quickly it is not worth downloading.

Mad Men is being fast tracked within a couple of hours on Showcase (Foxtel) and I don't download that.

However, The Walking Dead was played 33 hours behind - that one I downloaded.

All of these shows, I do eventually buy on DVD.

I think there may be grounds for a consumer affairs complaint and it would be well worth making one.

universe93 said...

The only issue I have with this post is then 7 doesn't air Seinfeld. I'm also interested as to where you live that doesn't get 7? I thought all states got 7.

Unknown said...

7mate is screening Seinfeld atm (I confirmed this at

I can't get 7 as my TV doesn't pick it up properly, not because it isn't available. It could be due to the TV tuner dying, the need for a new cable or just the location of my apartment in the high rise tower. Regardless, I can't watch any of the channels on the 7, 9 or 10 networks at the moment.

Unknown said...

Thanks. I am going to investigate further. :)

Unknown said...

Hi Penelope - I have the exact same, infuriating problem. I have just complained online to the ACCC - although I am not sure that that is the correct forum. When my kids watch a legally acquired DVD here, they laugh at all the warnings etc about piracy, which you cannot fast forward through - and say that if you download a pirated version, you don't get that!! So, power to you. Hope you are enjoying the up to date episodes! I too will never buy another season pass on iTunes, but also will for your reasons, not watch them on TV! Thanks for posting this.