Island mentality at ITV

Posted by Matt Kuhns on Jun 2, 2013

I was all set to watch The Murder in Angle Lane, finally, last night. I registered at itv.com, confirmed my registration, and everything seemed ready to go. I went off to make dinner musing rapturously on this wonderful networked age with its seamless availability of so much great content, etc., etc…

Then I sat down to hit “play” and ran smack into the old-fashioned world of barriers and petty fiefdoms.

Having gone through registration, and confirmation, I was only then at the point of playing a video prompted for a “postcode,” i.e. a British postcode. And even this was disingenuous because what their system really demands is not a British address but a British IP address. They don’t seem to provide any kind of notice in their promotional material that their service is geographically firewalled, they don’t point this out when one tries to sign up for it, either, but if one digs around in the FAQ eventually one may find a very quiet advisory that “We do not hold international rights to all of our programming, so video content is supplied only to users with IP addresses in the UK.”

I can’t exactly blame ITV for the underlying reality, here; the persistence of this obsolete concept of slicing up content distribution into geographic partitions, even when content is being distributed on a global network, is much larger than ITV. (See the scam known as Region Coding, e.g.) Still, one would think that they could at least communicate their service’s resultant unavailability to approximately ninety-nine percent of the online population a little bit more efficiently…

One is reminded of the oft-recited (if perhaps apocryphal) British newspaper headline: “Fog in Channel, Continent Isolated.”

Meanwhile, short of going to Britain to watch the movie there, I’m not sure what my next step is; officially, the only alternative is presumably “wait until someone gets around to authorizing your backwater outpost to see this content.” I’ve taken a quick look online and there are, naturally, means of subverting this attempted subversion of the inherent nature of the internet, through technical and presumably illegal jiggery-pokery of some sort… Not sure I feel like bothering right now, really.

As they say on ESPN, “Come on, man.”

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