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Monday, February 21, 2011

Bmag Feb 22nd 2011 - TV/movie piracy

It looked like I was about to do a bad bad thing. Not that I was. But it looked like it. Then a 10-year-old saved me! And, at the same time, gave me an idea that might just put a big dent in TV and movie piracy.

My light-bulb moment occurred whilst driving son Jack and his school-friend Cameron into the city for a boys’ day out. With Jack in the passenger seat and Cameron in the back, my phone rang. I was passing it to Jack so he could speak with his mum when Cameron started chanting “pull over, pull over, pull over!”

Parents, you know what it’s like when someone else’s child is with you. You don’t want any tales told when they get home. You’re always on best behaviour. So, despite the fact I wasn’t on the phone – Jack was – I pulled over. And it started me thinking.

Children clearly have the power to influence through shame. We know they teach us about the environment – I don’t know about your place, but Jack’s always switching off appliances at the wall – to the point where I’ve given up re-setting all the clocks every day! And there have been some killer antismoking campaigns featuring children and their dying parents. So, what’s the next parental policing job we can give our children? How about the very-now, hidden-in-the-home crime of internet piracy?

Before I go on, I know why people illegally download television shows. Mainly it comes down to the tardiness of the Australian networks when it comes to showing new overseas shows. For example, Channel Ten made Glee fans wait until this month to see last year’s Christmas special. And many Little Britain fans have already downloaded the new Matt Lucas/David Walliamson series Come Fly With Me which concluded in Britain at the end of January. The same goes for the new Matt LeBlanc series Episodes which Brisbane downloaders have just finished watching.

Local TV blogger even has Best Show Not On Australian TV as a category in his inaugural Molky Awards 2011.

As I see it, movie piracy is much harder for anyone to justify. Pirated TV shows have at least aired somewhere in the world. It’s no different to asking an overseas friend to tape an episode and mail it to you. But it does hurt the television industry, denied money from advertisers. Money that would be pumped into future productions. Feel free to email me explaining why you download movies (see below). I’m keen to better understand people’s reasons.

For now, though, I’m putting TV and movie piracy in the one basket, and have come up with a TV commercial to stop it. The ad comprises a simple conversation between a man and his son but it contains key lines which no TV or movie pirate wants to have chanted back at them! Imagine what would happen if this appeared during children’s viewing time.

DAD: Simon, we can watch the latest episode of Survivor tonight
BOY: Do we have it?
DAD: Almost. 15 per cent to go. Should be ready in about 20 minutes.
BOY: Dad, where do you find Survivor on the internet?
DAD: Just people…
BOY: Is it legal?
DAD: Well…
BOY: Dad, are you breaking the law?
DAD: …
BOY: Dad, I don’t want you to go to jail. Let’s wait until it’s on TV.

Of course, there is another cheaper, easier way to stop piracy. Australian TV stations can start screening programs within a day of them being shown overseas, as ABC1 did with the 2010 Dr Who Christmas Day episode.

Finally, thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the Secrets of Brisbane book I’m compiling.

bmag reader Jenny S. has sent me two crackers – the second “t” in Turbot Street is not silent, and don’t be too surprised if an entire house is moved from your street in the middle of night!

And I’m not sure how long this one will stay now it’s been revealed, but Evan shares this secret: “When using a Go Card, if you travel somewhere and, within an hour after touching off, you get back on the bus/train/ferry to go home, the return trip is free. Translink’s transfer rules don’t seem to recognise a change in the direction of travel.” Love it!

My ABC colleague “Whistling” Warren Boland also adds this one – stand outside Lang Park when there are major concerts on. You might not hear every word but you still feel like you were there! I must confess to doing exactly that when Robbie Williams played in 2006! Keep them coming. If I use your secret, you’ll get a special acknowledgement in the book, to be launched on 25 March.

Monday, February 7, 2011

BMag February 8th 2011 - Secrets Revealed

It’s 30 years this month since I arrived from England. And I’m well aware that many people arrive here at this time of year, usually because someone in the family starts a new job. So I’ve decided to write a book about our city. Not a What’s On guide or a list of theme parks and art galleries.

Secrets of Brisbane will be just that: what noone tells you.

So what would you tell someone who’s just moved to Brisbane? And for any newcomers to Brisbane, I hope you get something out of the following:

If you’re going into the city on a weekday, the parking can really break the bank. However it’s only $15 a day (all day) at the cultural precinct car parks. Walk or bus over the Victoria Bridge and you’re in the Queen Street Mall.

You’ll find an entire community of people – usually tourists and students – sitting outside the State Library at night. They’re using the free wi-fi internet. There are even power points on the outside of the building to plug into! It’s free to join a Brisbane City Council library. Each card holder is allowed 20 items at once and that includes a huge range of movies and TV shows on DVD. Free DVD hire for a month at a time!

We have a Chinatown in the Valley but some of our best Chinese restaurants are in Sunnybank on the southside.There are great views of the city from Mt Coot-tha and Mt Gravatt. Both have restaurants but Mt Gravatt has a curfew. Public transport is cheaper with a go card. And cheaper still between 9am and 3.30pm and after 7pm.

Buy a house near a train line. Trains have delays but they can’t get stuck in traffic. And once you have bought somewhere, Brisbane City Council will give you two free trees a year. Take your first rates notice of the calendar year to a participating nursery.

Apart from winter, it’s always best to carry a brolly or at least have one in the car! Become familiar with the Mt Stapylton radar on the Weather Bureau’s website.

The cheapest cinemas are not the ones found in shopping centres. There’s free improv theatre Monday nights in the Valley. Visit for details. And there’s a free board game night in King George Square on the last Thursday of the month.

Here are just three ways to avoid a council fine. Don’t park across your own driveway. Don’t park in your own driveway if you’re blocking the footpath. And don’t leave your bins on the footpath more than 48 hours after they’ve been emptied.

There are tight parking restrictions around the Gabba (or Woolloongabba for the real newbies) and Lang Park on “event days”. Oh, and Lang Park is also known as Suncorp Stadium. To some, the William Jolly Bridge is still the Grey Street Bridge, 56 years after it was renamed. To children, it’s the Inspector Gadget Bridge. Watch “Inspector Gadget 2” and you’ll find out why!

You can turn right from Hale Street onto Coronation Drive, despite the lack of signage. It’s as if they don’t want you to know. And you only need one tag in your car to drive on any of our toll roads.

Now, what have I missed? Email me ( and if I use your suggestion in Secrets of Brisbane, you’ll get an acknowledgement in the book.