BBC’s Australia boss urges clampdown on piracy ahead of new channel launch

The managing director of BBC Worldwide Australia Jon Penn has backed calls for changes to copyright laws to crack down on piracy in Australia, as the broadcaster readies the launch of its new Foxtel channel First.

At a glitzy showcase in Sydney last night Penn was joined by the head of pay-TV body ASTRA Andrew Maiden and Foxtel CEO Richard Freudenstein to announce some of the new shows the channel, which is set to launch on an as yet unspecified date in August, will carry.

These include content which has already aired on BBC TV in the UK including shows Peaky Blinders, The Musketeers, Quirke and The Politician’s Wife, with the new channel available to subscribers to the drama and lifestyle package, which costs $15 per month on top of a basic subscription.

Speaking to Mumbrella this morning Penn conceded piracy is a big challenge for the broadcaster, with much of its exclusive “first run” content for the channel already available on streaming sites.

He said: “The whole problem of piracy is a vexed one. The fact is most young Australians  do steal content online. As a a content owner we are very firmly aware that piracy is hurting our business, as it does for many others.




“We support ASTRA’s position in piracy and any possible changes that can be made to stamp out piracy are welcome.”

Copyright reform and tightening up laws and requirements on internet service providers to clamp down on illegal streaming and sharing sites have been subject to much lobbying from content owners in recent years, although it is unclear as yet whether any changes to the law will be forthcoming under the Liberal government.

Penn said where possible most of the content on the new channel would be fast tracked from the UK in a bid to minimise the temptation for people to pirate it, with drama and comedy such as Alan Partridge’s recent specials in the mix. First run shows will be shown ad-free and will not be shown on free-to-air broadcasters for 12 months.

He also said the content would not be available on the BBC’s Global iPlayer video on demand service, which subscribers pay $8 per month to access in Australia and carries thousands of hours of archived BBC content.

However, Penn said the new channel would allow much of the BBC’s output which would otherwise not be picked up by Australian broadcasters to air here.

(Apologies for the autoplay.)

Alex Hayes


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.