UK fans of America's leading satirical TV show got a shock today when they discovered they could no longer view the show on its website.
The website has forums where overseas fans of the show have been venting their rage at the block. Not just UK viewers but those from Ireland who can no longer watch the show on the UK licensee Channel Four's website yet also remain blocked from watching it on the show's website, apparently because C4 hasn't bothered to tell the Daily Show's channel, Comedy Central, that it's blocked the Irish. People in the rest of Europe have no such problems.
There's no statement from either Channel Four or the show about this out-of-the-blue block but it appears from past Daily Show statements on their forum that they only do the blocking on the request of a country's license holder. Incidentally, I was able to leave a comment on their website and I see that the show's producers do respond to comment. Channel Four offers no such option, there is no comment space offered for the show and they have no forum or similar space for viewers to talk back to them.
What is particularly sad/appalling about Channel Four's actions is that all online video from the extensive Daily Show online archive is now being blocked for UK - yet Channel Four is only showing the past week's shows online! Do they even have rights to episodes from before they started showing the Daily Show, because I can't watch clips from 2000.
What is so stupid about this (and it has multiple layers of stupid) is that I have been posting clips on my blog which promotes the show Channel Four have rights to! Now none of those embedded clips work and so the show gets no (free) promotion from me or the many others who embed clips.
When the Daily Show's sister program The Colbert Report was being shown on a UK cable channel you couldn't watch clips on their website - but you could watch clips embedded on other websites. This makes complete sense as if you liked what you saw it promoted the cable channel's show and made it far more likely that you'd bother to subscribe to it. It also makes it appear that C4's block request included blocking embedded clips.
At the same time that one bit of C4 takes this completely stupid action another makes clips from C4 news freely available, even ad free!
Here's another stupidity. I have watched clips from US shows which have served up country specific ads. On sites like HuffPost I get UK ads. So if you can recognise I'm from the UK you can monetise it to the benefit of the UK license holder. Hardly rocket science.
What C4 are doing is tragic for the Daily Show itself as it is going to lose a significant chunk of its UK audience. All - one would assume - in the name of driving viewers back to watching the show on More4 ON TV!
I hope that the show's resident Brit, the hugely popular John Oliver, learns about it and tells Channel Four to stop behaving like idiots.
Of course people can watch Daily Show clips if they know how to get around the block by hiding their computer's ip address. This means C4 lose out on any hope of ad revenue. I won't even bother linking to how because a simple Google (or a look on the Daily Show's forums where they allow comments explaining how) will tell you what to do. So not only are C4 idiots but they think the rest of us UK fans of the show are too.
Addendum: Tony Lee has commented on the cross-post of this on the Online Journalism blog that:
Channel 4 denies the above. I wrote them and got the following response:This is the exact opposite of what Comedy Central say on their forum - so I will post this statement there and see what they have to say for themselves.
Thank you for contacting us regarding THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART.
We would advise that although we do indeed hold UK broadcast rights for the series, the overall rights to the series are owned by Comedy Central themselves. Content on their website, as with other American networks, is blocked to residents not in the US. These blocks are placed by the channel themselves, not Channel 4.
It is the same with content on UK broadcasters website being blocked to those outside the UK. The reason for this is copyright and broadcasting licence terms.
We would suggest that you therefore direct your complaint on this issue to Comedy Central. You can do so via the following link:
Channel 4 is not responsible for third-party websites.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact us here at Channel 4 and for your interest in our programming.
Channel 4 Viewer Enquiries
There is an actly petition:
petition @ComedyCentral to lift the IP block for #dailyshow video online UK http://act.ly/mr RT to sign #actlyAddendum two
A fix has been posted on the Daily Show fan forum (ironically) http://forum.thedailyshow.com/tds/board/message?board.id=support_2008_oct&message.id=2897#M2897 (and it works)