For years I’ve had to live with the fact that Australia is treated like a second-rate citizen. Typically it’s because of the United States of America having a walled country in terms of content. Australia was settled by the British, but in the 21st century we are very much influenced by the USA.
Here’s a few things that have been traditionally hindered on Australian soil:
- Feature films are released 3-6 months after they’re initially released in the United States. The same goes for DVDs. Films such as Avatar or Transformers are released at the same time as they are in the USA because they’re so popular that they don’t want people to pirate them. People will pirate them anyway.
- Television shows are broadcast 6 months or more after they’re aired in the USA. Okay, so ever since the final season of The O.C. this has changed. Now, popular US shows such as LOST, Heroes, Flash Forward, etc are shown in Australia a week after they are broadcast in the USA. That still doesn’t cut it for me.
- Technology doesn’t reach us for years. We’re located so close to Japan, yet America tends to get new technology before we do. Where’s the logic in that? We never had the opportunity to buy the first generation iPod or the first generation iPhone. We still don’t have true unlimited broadband Internet. (We have 25-200GB caps and they’re fairly expensive.) This is being remedied though.
Many of those restrictions aren’t unique to Australia. The United Kingdom is far closer to the USA than Australia is, yet they also get treated similarly. Lots of other countries have similar treatment.
The issue as spread to the Internet. You can find almost anything online, but (depending on the country you’re accessing the Internet from) you might not be able to view it.
Here’s a list of things that are restricted on Australia’s Internet:
- Hulu. No one can access Hulu outside the USA (most proxy servers are even blocked). They state that they’re trying to become available in other countries, but they’ve been stating that for years.
- YouTube. You may not be aware, but a plethora of content on YouTube is blocked from Australian consumption. Although some UK-based content is blocked from American viewers.
- Television stations (NBC, ABC, MTV, CMT, etc). Most American television stations block viewers from other countries. Similarly, you can’t access video content from Australia’s television stations’ web sites if you’re not within Australia. So, America isn’t really the ‘bad guy’ in this whole situation. It’s the idiotic rules based around content in general.
- Amazon MP3. Sure, anyone can access an Amazon web page. But, in order to download MP3s you need an application. The application can’t be downloaded unless you’re accessing the web site from the USA. Amazon Video On Demand videos are also blocked from view outside the USA.
- Google Voice. I understand that a service like this might take a little while to role out to Australia because phone numbers and mobile phones are a little different, but Google took over Grand Central a long time ago. You’d think they’d have figured out a way to allow other countries to use the service. Skype does it. I hope that when they do launch it in Australia (and other countries) that we can keep phone numbers from various countries on the same Google account.
As I mentioned above, the USA isn’t the only country that doesn’t allow outsiders to view their content. It’s just the fact that they create a lot of good content that we all want to see as soon as it’s done in the editing room.
Something interesting I discovered today is a British television show called Skins. It’s a teen drama (same genre as Australia’s Home & Away) which appears to push the boundaries of what can be shown on television (e.g. the f-word and sex scenes). I don’t know much about British television, so I’ll tell you what I just learned. Skins is shown on a channel called E4. It’s broadcast in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. E4 is a pay-TV companion to the free-to-air Channel 4.
I am able to access video content on E4’s website. Scenes, behind the scenes videos, video blogs, and photographs from Skins are available on the website. Those residing in the United States can also access all that same content. Though, scenes from the show available on YouTube (uploaded by random users; not E4 or Channel 4) can be seen in Australia, but not the United States. I’m not quite sure why they’re blocked on YouTube and not E4’s official website. Oh, that’s right, because YouTube is a jerk!
It seems that British content is a little more accessible than content from the United States — or even from Australia. Yeah, try accessing the Foxtel web site from outside of Australia (you’d see this).
So what are we to do about this? Well, I’ve submitted my interest to Hulu that I’d like it available in my country. I’m not sure if that even does anything though. I’d say just keep pirating stuff until these various services begin to understand our needs, or until The Zeitgeist Movement is complete.
What do you think about all this? Are you in the USA and could care less? Are you living in Australia and wanting to slash your wrists? Hit up the comments below! 🙂