CBC Becomes the First TV Network in North America to Release a Show Through BitTorrent

CBC Becomes the First TV Network in North America to Release a Show Through BitTorrent
Our nation’s public broadcaster made a small bit of history recently when it released an episode of Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister through the BitTorrent file-sharing network. In a classy move, they released it without any ads or DRM (digital rights management — that stuff that stops you from sharing media with different PCs, etc.). In a statement, Tessa Sproule, the executive in charge of Digital Programming For Factual Entertainment (a job title only the CBC could come up with, I’m sure) said, "We’re very aware that the broadcasting environment is changing… We want to explore new ways to do what we do."

While the CBC should be commended for taking the step, it’s unlikely that it’s the start of a new trend: CNGPM was a reality show in which contestants debate in front of former Prime Ministers. With no actors or writers to compensate, the issue of online rights was easy to negotiate. As the recent Hollywood TV Writers Strike made clear, no writers seem willing to give their work away online for free — you’re not going to see legal torrents of The Office or Lost until the networks have figured out a way to make money from the download (read: Ads or DRM).

In addition, many fans complained of not being able to download the show with reasonable speed, as their internet connections were throttled by you know who [Bell Canada Begins Throttling BitTorrent Traffic], adding weight to the argument that there are many legal and necessary uses for BitTorrent downloading, and to have it throttled by a provider you pay a monthly fee to is, basically, horseshit.