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Mar 10, 2009

Freeview Caught Out - They DID Get the Spoof Pulled

In today's Crikey email I have reported that Freeview Australia, the marketing arm for Australia's free to air television industry, were indeed behind attempts to suppress a spoof video

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In today’s Crikey email I have reported that Freeview Australia, the marketing arm for Australia’s free to air television industry, were indeed behind attempts to suppress a spoof video sending up the new digital multichannels. This is despite Freeview’s denials to me yesterday.

This morning I received the following e-mail from Rob Shilkin, the Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Google Australia (Google owns YouTube).

“Hi Margaret – I’ve been reading your blog. We don’t ordinarily comment on individual videos or any DMCA notices that may be filed, but due to some confusion that is circulating online, I’ve made some enquiries internally.  I wanted to confirm that we received a DMCA notice for lawyers acting on behalf of Freeview Australia Limited to remove the video in question.  More information on the DMCA process is here: http://www.youtube.com/t/dmca_policy

Kind regards!
Rob Shilkin
Rob Shilkin
Head of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs
Google Australia & New Zealand

The news, and what Freeview is saying for itself now, is on Crikey. What remains is to look at what all this means.

When the video first appeared on YouTube, I noted it on this blog, saying that it had made me giggle at the end of a long day. I mentioned it with some reluctance, since it is really a free plug for the comedians involved. Nevertheless I thought it was amusing enough to earn a mention.

Amusing  – not rapier wit or cutting edge satire. I imagine that left to itself it would have circulated virally for a while and died. I and others only revived the matter because of suggestions that Freeview might take legal action. This resulted in much noise on Twitter and other social networking sites, and the inimitable Ben Grubb did an interview with one of the comedians concerned.

By trying to suppress the spoof, Freeview have ensured that it will be much more widely viewed. By denying that they tried to suppress it, they have also, for what it is worth, pissed me off.  Journalists do not like being misled.

Asher Moses of the Sydney Morning Herald picked up on the story late yesterday afternoon and confidently reported that Freeview were behind the suppression action. Given Freeview’s blank denials, I must admit I was sceptical. But Moses was right.

Now, why does Freeview exist? To promote and market digital multichannels in what is fast becoming the main battle of our television times – that between free to air and pay television. Of course, internet protocol tv has the potential to knock them both around, which is why they are positioning themselves now. At the same time, of course, some of our free to air tv networks are in financial trouble.

So how has the marketing campaign gone? You would have to say Freeview has done a spectacularly bad job in this instance. As a result of their action, Freeview has effectively promoted a spoof video alleging that the multichannels, far from being a “new era in Australian television” as claimed by the original ad, are in fact “more of the same” that will make viewers want to upgrade to watching television on broadband as fast as possible.

Own goal,  Freeview.

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9 comments

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9 thoughts on “Freeview Caught Out – They DID Get the Spoof Pulled

  1. Freeview Caught Out – They Did Get the Spoof Pulled | External Brain

    […] Australia, the marketing arm for Australia’s free to air television industry, were indeed behind attempts to suppress a spoof video sending up the new digital multichannels. This is despite Freeview’s denials to me yesterday […]

  2. Australia’s 20 Worst Cases of Censorship and Moral Panic in 2009 - Somebody Think Of The Children

    […] from YouTube but why? Freeview Marketing Manager Liz Howarth denied they had made a complaint but Google soon revealed they had received a DMCA takedown notice from lawyers acting on behalf of Freeview Australia […]

  3. fredn

    Tell them to look up cluetrain on wikipedia. If they don’t know about wikipedia tell them to google it. If they don’t know about google, give up.

  4. The Worst of Perth

    I love the barfaced lying to journalist aspect of it. That was pretty cool.The rest Freeview seem to have flogged up.

  5. Jeff Waugh

    Perhaps the parody itself wasn’t champagne comedy, but it is hilarious that Freeview (an Australian organisation) used the DMCA (a ridiculous US law, which we basically carbon-copied into Australian law through the US Free Trade Agreement — without the benefit of Fair Use to keep it at least marginally fair… we only managed to get Fair Dealing very recently) to badger Google into taking down the parody.

    The traditional conduits for “content makers” will concoct all kinds of nonsense — and abuse it — in order to maintain control. 🙂

  6. Marc Fennell

    I know its unfashionable to comment on a story you’re featured on, but this is hillarious.

    Is it just me or did Google just hold up a piece of paper and mouth the corporate equivalent of ‘Liar Liar, Pants on Fire?”

    To tell you the God’s honest truth, I agree with Margaret. The video was designed to be amusing thats all, we weren’t re-doing Annie Hall or anything. But the real comedy has been the rigmarole that Freeview have created for themselves. Is it wrong for me to feel sorry for them? what with their near complete misunderstanding of how the internet works?

  7. John Surname

    I didn’t think it was funny at all, but I suppose this controversy means their comedy festival show might be one of the few to sell more than 20 tickets. They might get as many as 30 people through the door over the fesitval period.

  8. Freeview TV ad parody disappears from YouTube - Somebody Think Of The Children

    […] the video. Freeview Marketing Manager, Liz Howarth, yesterday denied they had made a complaint. More information at Magaret Simons’ blog and […]

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