You don't scare me, TV boss tells pirates

Last updated 05:00 19/10/2012
Boardwalk Empire
PROHIBITION COSTS: Australian TV channel Foxtel is screening Boardwalk Empire 48 hours after the US.

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Australian television boss Tim Worner says the station will not be spooked into fast-tracking imported television series and dramas because of internet pirates.

Seven Network has just announced a range of new shows and the return of several big hits from overseas its 2013 viewing scehedule.

Several have already screened or will be shown in the US before they appear in Australia.

Among the shows Seven is screening in Australia in 2013 are the second season's of Revenge and Once Upon A Time, which have started in the US, and the third season of the period drama Downton Abbey, which is screening in Britain.

Of the new series, Last Resort, about a US nuclear submarine crew which turns rogue after being attacked by its own navy, and Mrs Biggs, a co-production with Britain's ITV and based on the life of great train robber Ronnie Biggs, are on air elsewhere.

Worner said there was no denying illegal downloading did affect television ratings but not to the point where he believed Seven needed to start fast-tracking shows.

"I'm confident that those shows won't be greatly affected by the fact they have been on somewhere else first," he said.

"I know there are other people in the industry who feel differently [about the ratings effects of illegal downloading] and they are making their programming decisions based on that feeling, but I think it's jumping at shadows."

He said the first season of Revenge, one of Seven's big successes this year, ran some six months behind the US yet was still the number one drama in Australia.

"I don't think it's a concern with us and Revenge is a great example," he said. "We ran that sometime after it had been on in the US and the show was huge. Downton Abbey, we screened some time after it had been in the UK, and the show is big."

Worner said he was not dismissing the impact of internet piracy but he did not believe it was the problem other networks were making it out to be.

Network Ten has heavily promoted that several of its US series, such as Homeland and Hawaii Five-0, are now being fast-tracked and Foxtel has done likewise with a number of its programs, including Sons of Anarchy and Boardwalk Empire.

But Worner said viewers were accustomed to watching shows when aired in Australia and in suitable timeslots and he was confident piracy would not spell the end of imported television shows.

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"Pirating is a story that gets over written," he said. "Look at the ratings of the shows that have been fast-tracked, how have they gone? By saying that I am not saying we have our head in the sand and we don't think that there are challenges ...  but I don't think it's going to kill television."

- AAP

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