07/08/03 BBC FTA decision affects forthcoming films & "24"

iceman

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Hollywood in screen battle with BBC

Matt Wells and David Teather in New York
Thursday August 7, 2003
The Guardian

The BBC's plans to screen the first Harry Potter film and other blockbuster movies are under a cloud because of a potentially damaging row with the big Hollywood studios.

Warner Bros, Universal and 20th Century Fox have called in their lawyers to sort out a dispute that has arisen from the BBC's decision to broadcast its channels unencrypted: the studios are concerned that their films can now be picked up in countries around Europe in which the corporation does not own the relevant rights.

Relations between the BBC and some of the studios are said to have broken down because of the row, which could also hit the negotiations over the third series of 24.

Earlier this year, the BBC ended its conditional access deal with BSkyB, which ensured that its output could only be seen by holders of viewing cards in Britain. The BBC moved its channels to a new satellite, which it claimed had a more accurate "footprint" over Britain, meaning it no longer needed to scramble its signals to stop them from leaking to mainland Europe.

But the studios fear BBC channels can now be seen all around Europe, and some want the corporation to re-encrypt its services. At the least, contracts will have to be redrawn and the studios placated.

If the row is not resolved, the studios could - in theory - stop the BBC showing their films: the corporation wants to make Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone the centrepiece of a ratings-busting Christmas schedule.

One executive at a rival broadcaster said: "The BBC are up against the wall on this one. I really don't see any way out of it for them, other than going back to some sort of conditional-access deal. It's not just films; it's right across the board: sport, drama, imports, the lot."

A Warner source said: "The BBC came to us and told us they were going to do this. We are waiting to assess the impact."

The source said that Warner, which makes the Harry Potter movies, had not yet threatened to pull the films.

In March the BBC director general, Greg Dyke, trumpeted his split from BSkyB's encryption service as a triumph that would save the BBC £85m over five years; since then, the move has been dogged with problems. ITV, Channel 4 and Five are now unavailable to satellite viewers who do not have a subscription to BSkyB; the corporation has also been forced to sign a new agreement with BSkyB to carry all of its regional services, meaning the move may not save as much as originally envisaged.

Now, some Hollywood studios are said to have suspended relations with the BBC, and are talking only through lawyers. The Motion Picture Association, Hollywood's lobbying arm, has also taken up the studios' case. A BBC spokeswoman said: "Some negotiations are on hold. But it would be untrue to say that nothing is moving forward. It's more difficult with some than others. They are concerned about overspill from the new satellite; we are confident that the overspill is a lot less than it was before."
 

methos_de

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Just wait up, this is only the beginning. We had the same problem here in Germany with the World Cup. All digital viewers got were crappy films from the 1950s!!!!! as in certain countries the world cup was ppv.

Methos.
 

mill9

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methos_de said:
Just wait up, this is only the beginning. We had the same problem here in Germany with the World Cup. All digital viewers got were crappy films from the 1950s!!!!! as in certain countries the world cup was ppv.

Methos.

Viewers all over Europe have been watching the BBC channels ever since they were available on Dsat unofficially what's the difference....
 

methos_de

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mill9 said:
Viewers all over Europe have been watching the BBC channels ever since they were available on Dsat unofficially what's the difference....

The difference is you used to have to have a digibox and a BBC card to be able to view it. As these were only available in England and with an english address it made it far more diffucult to watch BBC. Now you can pick it up using a bog standard top box.

Methos.
 

rolfw

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Although it would be impossible to obtain accurate figures, I wonder whether any more people watch now, than did before?

I wouldn't mind betting that the amount of new people tuning in, is only about equivalent to those who can no longer easily receive it.

This vision that some people appear to have, of every dish in France, Belgium, the Nederlands, Western Germany and Northern Spain, being turned toward 28.2E for FTA BBC, to me somehow doesn't seem realistic.
 

Channel Hopper

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I wouldnt mind a rerun of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Sinbad - Eye of the Tiger, or Chitty Chitty Bang Bang after the Queens Speech, if they were forced not to show Harry Potter

Seriously its not at all surprising 20th Century are spearheading this

The money the BBC are apparently saving could be put to providing their own special brand of entertainment, for Christmas and other family breaks, which if history repeats itself, will ultimately bring the BBC out ahead of Hollywood

How many actors/scriptwriters presently floundering in the US would flock back to the BBC (after attending some correctional facility, and maybe speech therapy) ?
 

rolfw

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I used to like the old Morcambe and Wise specials, then later, Only Fools and Horses etc. No reason why it can't be home grown entertainment.

Though I agree, the older films, including the ones you mention above, are still great watching.
 
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