Here's Why Top Gear Can't Be Aired Any Faster In Australia Than It Is Now

Just yesterday we were having a chat about Foxtel and its airing of the 19th season of Top Gear UK. We had a moan that, unlike another BBC series Doctor Who, Australians would have to wait a whole week for Top Gear to land here. The BBC has been in touch, and now we can tell you why it takes Top Gear so long to get here.

Here's a statement we received from BBC Worldwide earlier today:

BBC Worldwide Statement:
Top Gear is produced very close to UK transmission and so, unlike dramas, it is not able to transmit immediately globally as it needs to be reversioned and cleared for international broadcast. We’re really pleased to be able to bring Top Gear to viewers first on Foxtel, earlier than ever before and as soon as is technically possible.

That makes plenty of sense, but it's not doing anything to stop downloaders the world over from getting hold of Top Gear's UK airing just hours after it has aired. As a result, we can't call what BBC and Foxtel are doing "fast-tracking" from the UK. We can only call it "fast as we possibly can"-ing", which is certainly better than nothing, but still not enough to stem piracy.

Can TV piracy be stopped?



    "it needs to be reversioned and cleared for international broadcast"

    No, no it doesn't. That's your choice to do that. You could sell it on an episode by episode basis to download the second it airs in the UK, but you don't. You choose to reversion it, you choose to broadcast it before offering it on other platforms. None of these things need to happen, you are choosing to ignore the desires of your customers, who in turn, will simply bypass you.

      Have you ever noticed that the 58 min episode aired in the UK, fits into a 1hr timeslot with ads Australia? Something has to get chopped, and I would assume this is what they're referring to.

        GO! stretch it out to over 90 minutes.. They throw ads in mid sentence if they like. They don't give a stuff!

          Based on this I'm inclined to conclude that GO! is staffed entirely by unpaid interns and/or monkeys.

          But in all fairness I haven't watched GO!, ever.

            It's a pretty lousy channel. Though they do air from time to time some decent movies, like Pulp Fiction last night.

              they just show what has been showed on other channels... pulp fiction showed at least 3 times last year...

                Yeah, but totally worth watching whenever it's on!

                  Yeah but not on Tv, did you notice they cut a whole scene out where Vincent and Jules are cleaning out the car in Jimmy's garage?
                  The scene is short and contains a lot of swaering such as "I'm a mushroom cloud laying MF,MF" etc.

        I think they play the show slightly faster in some cases like that. You'll notice theres plently of shows (like the simpsons, family guy, ncis), where all the characters have a noticeably higher voice because its being played back faster.

          Nope they dont play it faster but they do usually cut out the news when they play it on Australian TV (I guess they figure its not relevant even though its one of the funniest bits of the show)

        No channels on Foxtel are really bound to the whole half hour, one hour timeslot thing. They go for as long as they need to. It makes the TV guide pretty messy though.

        Because of that there's no real reason for them to edit anything out for Australia, and BBC are being dicks for doing so.

      The reason they reversion it is to change music etc., they have odd licencing when it comes to music for TG. The TG DVDs never have the same music as the broadcast version, for this reason

        All i heard was entertainment industry hamstringing entertainment industry, bypass it is!

          is "bypass" our new term for theft? I like it.

            Is downloading TV technically theft? Well, I guess it is in a way, but in my view it's no different to taping it and watching it later, which is perfectly legal (it was, for a long time, technically illegal to tape TV even though TV recorders themselves were legal devices, but this isn't the case anymore). Sure you may argue that the TV networks don't get the ad revenue if you download, but they wouldn't if you taped it either (does anyone actually NOT fast forward the ads after taping a show?).

            It's a bit of a grey area I think. Unlike movies, music, games etc that you need to pay to watch, listen to or own, TV is broadcast often free of charge. Can you steal something you didn't need to pay for in the first place?

            The TV networks just need to get their acts together and realise that they can't get away with making us wait weeks or months for TV shows anymore.

            For the record, personally I actually watch very, very little TV. I haven't downloaded a show in years and I only watch a handful of shows and sport.

            Last edited 23/01/13 10:09 am

        It's not just Top Gear. In the UK the BBC only has to pay very minimal royalties for music their TV productions use, if at all. The cost to properly licence the music TG uses in other countries would be astronomical, hence the changed tunes for international broadcast.

      No, there are technical differences between broadcast systems in different countries, you can't just make a show in one country and broadcast it everywhere else. It's not so bad between the UK and here, as we're both PAL countries, but I think HD over there is only 720p, not the 1080p we use here and other technical standards could be slightly different. I sometimes do some work for a bloke who makes a really good living off the fact that you can't take an ad made for the UK, US or Europe and just broadcast it here. There are also the different ratings standards that need to be dealt with. There is no reason they would send it out to Australia just to keep you happy if it takes a week to get it ready for the US, it is perfectly reasonable for them to send them out all at once.

        Yeah no. The best out HD is 1080i. But thats not the reason. The reason is it gets chopped so they can squash it into an hour. If US tv shows can be played here a few hours after being aired over there, then top gear can do it

          But it doesn't get chopped, Nine show every minute of it. SBS used to butcher it to fit into an hour but Nine broadcast it over 90 minutes, adding in extra stuff from other episodes at the end to pad it out where necessary.

        It's available on BBC iPlayer immediately after air in the UK. At that point they are actively restricting Australians (and other nations) from watching it. It is no longer a problem of broadcast standards, it is their choice.

          Rubbish! you have no idea what you are talking about. The stream on BBC iPlayer would not be broadcast quality, not even Foxtel quality. The producers/director would cry themselves to sleep at night if that was the only way their work could be viewed.

            I never said to broadcast it. The stream is streaming quality. BBC are not allowing people to stream it.

        So how come Doctor Who can be streamed in Australia within an hour, and played in Australia, the US and Canada within 24-36 hours?

      Kinda. The show is made first and foremost for UK viewers. And that's entirely fair, they pay a regular licence fee (for the privilege of owning a TV) that partially funds the BBC.

      UK licensing and royalty rules also give far more freedom to use copyrighted music and footage in their programs, and the BBC use this to jazz up the programs. That freedom only applies to UK broadcasts (again, because the Poms pay for that privilege).

      So, BBC have a choice. Make the best possible program for the audience they have to provide for (by law - there's reams of legislation on how the BBC is allowed to operate - loads more than our ABC), and then do some editing and tweaking to produce a slightly poorer quality product for overseas; or, make a universally slightly poorer product, and ask the UK viewers to suck it up and live with the fact that they're paying for poorer quality programs for the benefit of overseas broadcasts rights.

      Keeping in mind that the wrong answer gets your decision to be the subject of questions in parliament, put to the sword at investigations and commissions, hauled up in front of the PM, and frequently sacked (and occasionally, it would seem, driven to suicide - the UK take BBC governance really seriously).

      It sucks, but if you want someone to blame, it's more the the citizens of the United Kingdom and their elected representatives, and less Foxtel and the BBC.

    It's only a week. If you want it immediately then move to the UK. Problem solved.

      How would I get Neighbors in a timely fashion then?

        via bittorrent, youtube or a VPN into Australia of course.

        Come to think of it, those are all possibilities for getting Top Gear (except maybe youtube - neighbours is uploaded daily by various youtube uploaders and has so far never been taken down)

    Not only that, most people are frustrated that the content needs to be reversioned to add ads and remove content anyway. The reversioned version is the version I have an aversion to.

      So foxtel still has ads? what's the point then?

        To get content you aren't getting on Free to air, or not for a good while later on.

          So the" pirates" offer a better product for a better price. more convenience, no ads, less waiting. Foxtel putting ads in a BBC show should be illegal! Even less reason to part with that large fee every month.

            Each to their own. Ads don't really bother me, and if they did I wouldn't pay for Foxtel (not that I do anyway).

        It's Pay-Pay-TV.

      TBH I think cutting the show down is a much bigger issue. I have no issue with a weeks delay in getting the broadcast since it's not like it's out of date after seven days.

    Patience is a virtue...

    But is better

    Last edited 22/01/13 5:02 pm

    The only way to stop piracy is to stop people from ripping the recorded shows from their PVR's and DRM everything. But as it is all software base these days people will find a way around that. As for TG, I can wait 7 days for it to air on BBCK.

      The way they combat piracy is to make shows like The Voice, Masterchef, The Block and Dancing With the Stars instead of good quality drama.

        I think you'll find crap like that increases piracy. when the stations provide the public with pure garbage programming, we tend to ignore what's on tv and have some other content pre-downloaded and ready to watch. ;)

          I think what he is getting at is that if you don't want piracy make your show so crap people wont even download it.

    DRM is the spawn of the devil. I'm fully against pirating - despite what 'they' say, it IS stealing - but DRM is not the answer. Would you buy a car that wouldn't let you take it off your driveway? No way!!

    The answer is for the content owners to cut the bullshit and actually start listening to their customers. There are plenty of people out there honestly prepared to pay for content that is available easily, in a timely fashion and not at rip-off prices. Look at Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime in the US. They are raking in the profits because they offer what people want.

    Of course that isn't going to kill piracy but they should start concentrating on the large pool of people out there who WILL pay, rather than those who never will regardless what they do. It still seems to me there is more money to be made this way than just trying to screw people.

      its not stealing - check the law where you live.

      Last edited 22/01/13 5:33 pm

        Which law, the one here where I download it or the one where the person in the UK is recording and re-distributing it? In both or either case they will be able to make a civil case against me and the provider and sue. It is stealing, the Intellectual Property of the provider of the content and the distributor and licensing involving it and the local advertising (which ultimately pays for what we get). It's not stealing until you end up loosing in court.

          "Stealing" is defined as "wrongfully taking the property of another". Since piracy involves making a copy, and the owner still possesses the original, piracy is not stealing, and no law I'm aware of defines it as such.

          Infringing copyright is of course still against the law, and it usually deprives the owner of some potential income. It does not actually deprive anyone of property however, even intellectual property, and in no way is it "stealing".

      Would you buy a car that wouldn't let you take it off your driveway? No way!!
      Actually, my car ( and most others) have a form of DRM... if I lose the car keys I can't drive it. I'll need to get new a new key made (assuming I don't have a spare) or 'hack' the car, otherwise it will just sit there gathering dust.

      Would you buy a car that wouldn't let you take it off your driveway?

      No, but if I could burn a copy of it to run down to the shops with, I would.

    Or you can just do what I do which is watch the same 4 episodes over and over again on channel 9.


    They play it backwards in the UK?

    The fact that they need to 'retool' it for other countries is ridiculous, this is one of the biggest franchises in the world and should be made for an international audience - period. Secondly, to fit within other locations time-slots and advertising it is common practice for Australian channels to speed up content 5-10%, this is how a 58 minute package fits into 1 hour with advertising here, nothing cut, just everything slightly faster. So by doing it this way and using this lame excuse, this will be a greatly downloaded show, demand equals supply.

      Yep the speeding up of shows has been done for a while. I also find it funny how the commercial stations breach the no more than 18 minutes of advertising per 1 hour block so often that you forget you were watching a TV show.

    Sigh. Content providers are still living next door to Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

    If some teenager can have an add free version in HD ready for download within hours of broadcast all around the world, then it bewilders me how a juggernaut of broadcast experience like the BBC can not achieve this.

    I have only one solution to this problem "FinalGear"

    When Australia stops cutting & dicing every single episode let me know when its ok to watch it on tv again

    i think you under estimate piracy here, we get it minutes after it airs, not hours, unless your dl is really slow

    ah eztv... where would I be without you...

    The problems they are quoting are not technical, they are regulatory.

    If regulations about what goes on television have to be changed in the name of piracy prevention, so be it.

    Its not like it cannot be done. Other shows are able to do it (The Daily Show for instance).

    What's that, Luke? "Sorry Foxtel, it looks like on the topic of the delayed broadcast of Top Gear I ranted over a few days ago, you aren't the perpetrator of this crime, because BBC Worldwide just confessed."?

    It's OK, I'm sure they get that when it comes to Top Gear, people tend to get a bit emotional and lash out at the nearest target. Feel free to keep ripping them a new one about the Fox Sports costs increase, though!

    Last edited 25/01/13 11:08 am

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