Editorial The BBC has misjudged pricing and platform for Doctor Who missing episodes

Published on October 11th, 2013 | by Christian Cawley

Editorial: iTunes, BBC? Really?

Doctor Who is nine episodes heavier this year thanks to Phillip Morris, his TIEA organization and the work of BBC Worldwide in bringing the now complete serial The Enemy of the World and it’s slightly less fulsome companion The Web of Fear to fans.

That is, fans who use iTunes.

Now, iTunes is hugely popular, with over 25 billion songs sold, and 575 million active user accounts. It’s a successful application and digital delivery service although, of course, you can’t hold whatever you’ve downloaded. You can’t smell the PVC on the box, pull out the cover art or reflect your desk lamp off the shiny disc. It’s impersonal, and it isn’t the way things are meant to be.

The main problem is, however, that not every Doctor Who fan has an iTunes account, or indeed wants one. In a marketplace where the domination of the iPhone is shrinking, limiting these newly found Doctor Who classics to a single outlet seems odd. But that’s only the start of it…

Amazon, for instance, is more than ably equipped to supply digital delivery of these episodes. So is, crucially, Google Play. Both have the market reach and the latter has the larger share of the mobile and tablet market.

If I was to install iTunes (a horrendous piece of bloatware that instantly negates every pretty word you’ve ever heard from an Apple fan) on my PC today, I could easily purchase and download iTunes, providing the software doesn’t refuse on a couple of episodes as it did with one of our esteemed contributors earlier today (hint: if this happens to you, turn it off and back on again).

From then on, I could watch the episodes on my PC. But I wouldn’t be able to transfer them to my Android phone or tablet, thanks to DRM. Digital Rights Management – presumably the very reason why BBC Worldwide chose iTunes – prevents this. Yet it is a system in place on Amazon and iTunes.

Now, this isn’t to say that I agree that the episodes should be given away. That is clearly madness and we don’t know whether any of the TIEA-BBC Worldwide agreement includes payment; the smart money would suggest that something must have exchanged hands.

However, subscription-based international BBC iPlayer aside (something that proves the BBC is geared up to take cash for viewing content), there remains the issue of the pricing.

$9.99 for US viewers seems fair enough, doesn’t it, equating to around £6 back home (and as a freelancer working largely with US-based companies, don’t I just know it…). But wait… £9.99 in the UK?


The management of the missing episodes official narrative over the past few weeks has left much to be desired. While Thursday’s press conference was superbly arranged and conducted, this pricing, and the distribution channels chosen, seems like a major misfire.

I’m loathe to fall back on the “well my licence fee paid for it” because in most cases, our licence fee didn’t pay for either of these episodes to be produced, unless you happen to be one of the very old Doctor Who fans. As for the TIEA deal, well, that would fall under BBC Worldwide in most cases and presumably this one too.

That leaves us, then, with a platform-related misstep (that is sadly indicative of the general BBC attitude to non-Apple technology) and an abhorrent pricing difference between British fans and US fans.

It would be irresponsible to suggest anyone use a proxy avoidance technique to get these episodes for the same price as former colonial cousins. Therefore, let’s hope that the price is reduced to £5.99 or thereabouts forthwith.

For me, after a certain amount of soul searching, I’ve decided that a complete DVD release – vanilla or not – is more important.

At least I can hold it.


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About the Author


A long-term Doctor Who fan, Christian grew up watching the show and has early memories of the Graham Williams era. His favourite stories are Inferno, The Seeds of Doom and Human Nature (although The Empty Child, Blink and Utopia all come close). When he’s not bossing around the news team, Christian is a freelance writer specialising in mobile technology and domestic computing, and enjoys classic rock, cooking and spending time in the countryside with his wife and young children. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

112 Responses to Editorial: iTunes, BBC? Really?

  1. avatar Victor says:

    Hah, trust a Who fan to find something to complain about on such a wonderful day for the show! We have two (almost) complete stories we didn’t have before, let’s hold onto that glee and joy for a bit longer, please!

    • avatar Trilbee says:

      It is a great day for the show. But the poor distribution of these stories still shouldn’t be ignored.

      The way I see it, if you love the show then you SHOULD complain. Being a fan doesn’t mean being blind to its shortcomings, it’s acknowledging them.

      • avatar Victor says:

        I’m not saying be blind, but how about reveling in the sheer joy of this return for longer than 24 hours before we start to complain and pick the thing apart? It just confirms a lot of peoples poor views of us fans. I’m sure there could be a better way to distribute, or they could be cheaper. But rally, these things exist again, let’s celebrate and not berate. If someone dislikes iTunes, then the very worst thing that’s happened here is that you wait a few scant months and get them on DVD.

    • avatar Victor says:

      Hah! I see I’m being voted down for expressing a wish for us all to look on the positive side for a bit longer! Blimey…. Fair enough, but personally, there’s no space in my mind for anything over than joy at this return right now. Small niggles be damned. :)

    • I know what you mean, really I do, and I’m sort of there with you, in spirit.

      But given the amount most Doctor Who fans have spent already this year, and will be spending, it just feels wrong that in the UK we should be paying more.

      The Apple thing I can kind of get over because the BBC has been pratting about worshipping Cupertino for the best part of a decade now. But the pricing just feels… insulting.

      I mean, if they want to make the maximum income from these digital releases they kind of need to not put anyone off. Seems like a shortsighted decision to me.

  2. avatar Stellaflora says:

    Wow, I didn’t realise it was almost half the price in the US. 0_o
    I’d thought the “iTunes exclusive” seemed a tad odd, considering the limitations (I’d really like to burn it to a DVD as I don’t like to watch things on my PC).
    I’d decided to wait for Enemy of the World as it’s little over a month away anyway, but I had to have Web of Fear since I don’t want to have to wait until February (I’m personally hoping that the extra time for that is because they haven’t finished the animation of ep. 3 yet, they must be doing one surely!)

    • Itunes does allow burning, and that would also negate the drm, same thing with music from itunes, burn it to cd and re rip it and then drm is gone, or should be last I knew.

  3. avatar pcjonathan says:

    Couple of things regarding iTunes.
    1)Proxies won’t help you. You’d need to create a new iTunes account with an American address on it and setup a card on it. IF iTunes accepts multiple accounts per card (I don’t know), you’ll still be charged something like £1 per transaction for the currency conversion. It’ll also be a pain to play on your devices with more than 1 account. At the end of the day, you’d be better off just getting it via the UK one.

    2) (Hear me out here) I’ve unDRMed my content using a program Requiem, allowing me to play it on my TV, NAS, stick it on DVDs, whatever. It’s something I would recommend everyone to do. And for you “no illegal methods” folks out there, the program keeps the personal information in the files, so if you do share it, they’ll know exactly who to go after, which isn’t a problem for personal use. :)

    Though I agree, it is a rather stupid fact that we have to do that. Especially because iTunes on Windows sucks.

    • avatar Paolo Sammut says:

      Thank you for the requiem tip. Just what I need to DRM strip my files for personal use. cheers :)

    • Much obliged Jonathan. Despite my own tech credentials I don’t pretend to know much about iTunes, so thanks for setting me straight :)

    • The only thing you could do to get an american account is buy an american Itunes gift card and set up a american itunes account with it. Then you don’t need to add a credit card at all.

  4. avatar Paolo Sammut says:

    Totally with you here. As a fan I was eager to pay for my Doctor Who since licence fee arguments aside someone paid for these to be recovered from Africa, restored etc. If there are more episodes to come I want the BBC to feel that they can make a commercial success of bringing us quality Who as a priority. So at midnight I bought my copies and downloaded them

    The pain is that Apple make it difficult to watch it on a television – I dont plan to fork out on apple TV – and the DRM is a pain to strip. I have no intention of stripping the DRM and giving copies to anyone, but I would like a copy on my media drive for easy viewing on a TV set. Today I plan to move my notebook close to my TV, luckily I have a hdmi port so with a bit of rewiring I can watch Enemy and Web on my TV. Tomorrow I will be thinking how I can easily strip out the DRM of my copies of the show solely for my easy personal use.

    Sad thing is, I will probably buy the DVD’s too just to show support, so the unnecessary pain of use is galling since I support and want to pay for these episodes since I feel contributing to them means that the BBC will be happier falling over themselves to help other episodes return should opportunities arise; I just wish it could be made easier.

    • avatar Steve bennett says:

      People like myself want to see it now! I was so pleased when the BBC put them on iTunes.I will still of course by the DVDs for the cover discs and extras and the BBC know that some hard core fan will do this which means a few extra quid in the bank for the Beeb.for the price of a little more then a packet of fags,You can watch the stories now.Also remember downloading is the future and the likes of cd and DVDs will go the same way as records and tapes have.The only complaint I have is the BBC had these episodes for a long time and You can bet they are getting ready with a load more eg Marco Polo etc. BBC just tell us what you have now! Then all we have to do is wait for them to be released.I would like to say thanks to Phil Morris for obtaining these classics and looking forward to seeing what he has found in the Other two African hauls.

      • cd and DVDs will go the same way as records and tapes

        So they’ll come back?


        • avatar Keith Andrews says:

          No, CDs and DVDs will become a niche market, in the same way that vinyl has become.
          As fewer people want them, they will become collectors items, not mainstream.

      • avatar ZeroRoom says:

        “for the price of a little more then a packet of fags” – that’s particularly funny since the man responsible for returning the episodes is named Phillip Morris!

    • avatar Calli Arcale says:

      I bought it on iTunes, and then connected my laptop up to the TV and mirrored the screen so I could watch it on the TV. As my DVD player is borked right now, I pretty much have to do this anyway, and my laptop has HDMI output so I’m not losing any quality by doing that. Of course, I will also be buying the DVDs later, because I’m old-fashioned and like to hold them. I also like the extras. ;-)

  5. avatar Ian says:

    I agree with you Christian. I too am waiting for the DVDs. I have no desire to pay £9.99 to watch them and more money for the DVDs.

  6. avatar DavePash says:

    I’d love to see them now, especially Web. But there is still something that doesn’t feel right about not having the disc(s) and cases. for these reasons ( and my loathing of the exploitation of Apple to its foxcomm workforce ) I am waiting for the DVD release. My pre-order has gone in.

    • Dave, that’s a really good point.

    • avatar vaguely says:

      Do you think DVDs (or anyone else’s electrical equipment for that matter) are put together in factories in a bijou suburb of the land of milk and homey?

    • Though Foxconn is actually better than a lot pf the china factories and because of the public Eye on apple they have gotten better then certain other companies that also manufacture there.

  7. avatar rickjlundeen says:

    Flip side of the coin is that the iTunes episodes equate to a cheaper price here in the states—and we’re going to have to wait a lot longer for the DVD’s here. Anywhere from 2 to 8 months after the UK gets their DVD’s, at least, that’s how it’s usually been in the past. for the McGann movie, it was *years*.

    • And the McGann movie was made in BC, Canada — so it was sad to see it delayed…

  8. avatar Colin says:

    As one who could benefit from the US pricing (though I’m holding out for the US DVDs–assuming that happens…), I am astounded that they didn’t give at least the price equivalent to the UK fans. To return to something I said in a previous comment on a previous article, the UK is the base audience for Doctor Who. Yes, there are millions of fans worldwide, but the British fans are the home team. I would never begrudge UK fans getting stories first, or getting stuff cheaper, or even getting some exclusives. Price gouging them is just… not cricket! :) Yes, over on this side of the pond, it’s wonderful that we get stuff you get, but if all we got were the DVDs, and what they show on BBC America, I’d say we were being serviced nicely.

    Come on Beeb–you can do better!

  9. avatar Keith Andrews says:

    But the platform that something is available on and the price you pay for it is not a new issue. Was it the BBC’s fault that I didn’t have a VHS video recorder when Death to the Daleks came out? Or the fact that I may not have a Wii to play a Doctor Who game on. I will also have to pay for the DVD from one of the near monopoly supermarket chains or online stores.

    • Spurious comment I’m afraid that completely misses the point. You have a computer, ergo you can, should you dare, install iTunes and buy the episodes.

      • avatar Keith Andrews says:

        Apologies, but I think your point is as spurious. And your dismissiveness is not helpful. I do have a computer and I have downloaded. I think your complaints are groundless.

        • I’m sorry Keith, but it is your comparison with VHS which is not helpful.

          If you’re comparing VHS to anything it should be to a PC or Mac, not to iTunes. This is what I mean by missing the point.

          Complaints about price groundless? Really? How fortunate for you that you don’t have to tighten your belt in this day and age and count every penny.

          (Although I’m interested: you say “I think your point is as spurious” so perhaps you’re confessing that you agree your original remark is spurious? Please tell!)

          • avatar spoiled says:

            Death to the Daleks was the first video release not on betamax – only VHS. The comparison is itunes vs amazon vs google play etc. You want it on the superior android (betamax) but it has only been released on the more popular iTunes VHS.

          • avatar spoiled says:

            Perhaps you should apologise for missing the point?

          • avatar Keith Andrews says:

            My comment about VHS was in comparison to Betamax- there was a choice to have one or the other. The fact I made the Betamax choice was my fault, not the BBCs. I think there are parallels withiTunes.
            Whether I have to tighten my belt in the current economic climate is of no concern to anyone other than me.
            I’d prefer not to continue a discussion about spuriousness. I don’t want to get into a debate on the point.

          • avatar vaguely says:

            Had you not mixed in a perfectly legitimate pricing complaint with your hatred of the largest legal e-media distribution platform on the planet you comments would look nearly 93.7% less whiney, and 271.6% more relevant.

  10. avatar TonyS says:

    What did Horace say, Winnie?

    • avatar lee moone says:

      Blimey not heard that expression for years!

    • Anyone care to explain to Tony?

  11. avatar lee moone says:

    Well, I don’t have i-phone, so this morning I pre-ordered both stories on dvd. I like my Who (big Finish dvds) on disc, so I’m quite happy to wait until they plop through my door. Looking forward to sitting down and watching them on my TV with a glass or two of wine in my living room rather my phone or computer on a train. However… a friend of mine whos not into Who has an i-phone and has said that if I wanted to them he was happy to purchase them for me and send them via drop box. Hmm… As much as I want to see them I still think I will wait for my dvd…. or do I forward him the cash to download them as well. I don’t care about paying twice and applaud the BBC for allowing us to see them instantly or not. Its good to have the choice.

  12. Once again the UK fan is subsidising the US fan.

  13. avatar YorkshireNed says:

    Well said. I can’t afford a fancy Mac computer and I sure as hell aren’t pay £5 a month extra for the “privilege” of a phone that relies on the ridiculous iTune software so why on earth doesn’t the BBC want my money? Were the episodes on Google Play I would definitely buy them. I’m a BBC-loving leftie but their obsession with Apple has always grated on my nerves. APPLE CAN KISS MY WRINKLY SONTARANS! This is not a fair way to distribute public funded programmes.

    • Ned, you can get iTunes for Windows.

      It’s not very good, mind…

      • avatar YorkshireNed says:

        I know and I have it and I hate it. It’s a hideously clunky bit of shovelware that takes up way more memory than it ever needs. I also resent the idea of paying for digital files that I can only play on my PC. Sure, if it was a free stream then I would be more gracious about only being able to watch it on my PC. As you’ve said elsewhere, the BBC have always been obsessed with Apple, so this latest disappointment comes as no surprise, but BAH!

  14. avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

    I must say, I’ve struggled with Itunes all day now. I enjoyed Enemy immensely, but it’s quite a faff to watch this on my TV and it’s an awful platform on my PC. After a ton of messing, I’ve finally downloaded Quicktime to play it on, but honestly; there must have been another way…

  15. avatar Ben says:

    So, I get it that there is frustration that in the US the Eps are available for $9.99 while they are 9.99 GBP for you. There is a way around it and people have already alluded to it. You need to set up an account for iTunes US to go along with your UK account. Coincidently this works for folks living in the US who want to purchase from the UK iTunes store . . . . . . or so my friend tells me.

    Apple has tried to make this as difficult on you as possible but here are the things you need to do:
    1, you will need to get a second email account to set up for the US store. Apple won’t let you use an email address that is already in one countries iTunes store.
    2, find a US address that you are comfortable using, if you know the residents (or business) that helps.
    - once you have these you can create the account at the store in the foreign country. Do not put in a credit card when setting up the account. iTunes “checks” the credit card against the country the store is in, so a UK credit card won’t work in the US store, and vice versa.
    3, Since you won’t be able to buy anything without payment, you will need to buy iTunes gift cards for the country you will be shopping in. A simple google search will find you a variety of websites that cater to the online gamer crowds, most of which sell iTunes gift cards. Buy the gift card for the country of your choice.
    4, redeem said gift card(s) in the iTunes store and begin shopping.

    Yes this is a bit of a hassle especially when Apple touts the values of a global market place. However, when you don’t want to wait for it to become available in your country or you don’t want to pay for international shipping, it’s the way to go.

  16. avatar Adi Himpson says:

    I suspect limiting the video availability to one service was as much down to keeping secrecy in place as anything else. Plus, as iTunes has >60% of the video download market it is the obvious choice.
    I’m quite happy with this personally as I have at least three ways to watch iTunes video on my TV, but for less fortunate fans I hope the BBC make the episodes available on other platforms too as soon as possible.
    As for the price differential between the US and UK, well that’s just taking the piss…

  17. avatar TimeChaser says:

    I wish it was available through more than iTunes. I would totally get them through Google Play on my tablet.

  18. avatar Joyce says:

    Personally have no issues with iTunes cos it runs fine on my iPads, iPhones, iMac and laptop. Just dandy in fact (web looks great in a dark room on an iPad). Never owned a PC or Android device cos life is too short for mucking around.
    I wonder if iTunes was the BBC choice though? Two parties involved here and delicate negotiations involved.
    Good to see both stories doing well. Obviously some kind of experiment in play here.

  19. avatar Brad Wolfe says:

    Complaining about this is petty and ridiculous. Apple software is infinitely better than all other software available; iTunes is reliable and decent and the price, given the expense that must have been made in getting these episodes back, is extremely reasonable. “The way things are meant to be” – what, materialistic and polluting the world with the by-products of oil-based plastics? Puh-leeze. Quit whinging and celebrate this because it’s fantastic.

    • Apple software is infinitely better than all other software available

      This is neither true, not the point. If you think it is true, then you’ve clearly never used iTunes on Windows.

      The point is simple: there was no need for the BBC to limit the release to a single marketplace. They don’t with other digital releases.

      Apologies if the facts get in the way of your worldview.

      • avatar Keith Andrews says:

        ITunes for Windows is clunky and can be very slow. But with 25,000 music tracks, 30,000 audio tracks, 300 music videos and 150 films, I do find it useable and a reasonably tidy way of organising my digital entertainment. So I don’t think it can be as readily dismissed as it has been.

    • polluting the world with the by-products of oil-based plastics

      What nonsense. They’re coming out on DVD anyway. You have no point.

      • avatar Brad Wolfe says:

        I have plenty of points. My first being, you’re an aspy tosser running a shitty fan site that never runs anything new, just copies from other sites, who is ruining a great day for Who fans by whingeing about the fact you’re stupid enough to still use Microsoft and Windows. And as for the DVDs…? What, are you gonna take these “shiny things you can hold” with you when you die? Get some fucking perspective. Just fucking download iTunes, buy the episodes and stop being a fuckwit.

        • you’re an aspy tosser running a shitty fan site

          and yet here you are, posting on it.

          When you’ve found a Doctor Who site that offers more original content, I’ll dedicate a post on the news page to it.

          Until then, change your tone, watch your language, or go away.

          • avatar spoiled says:

            Quality not quantity is the measure of a site….
            Have you approached the BBC and actually asked them why they chose itunes as a distribution method? Reach – secrecy – drm – the interests of third parties are possibilities that immediately spring to mind. If you haven’t approached them seriously WTF?

        • avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

          Breathtakingly rude, immature and ignorant. Carl Sagan, Madonna and Dollyg Parton who you purport to be your inspirational heroes would be ashamed….

          • avatar Gareth Kavanagh says:

            Brad Wolfe, I mean….

          • avatar zarbisupremo says:

            … and a complete and utter bawbag.

  20. avatar Warren says:

    I didn’t look at the pricing for the US ITunes release. I did look at the UK price though, and despite it not being a tangible copy, I am extremely greedy and therefore couldn’t wait for the DVD releases (Though I will be getting them as well). I’ve just watched 12 episodes back to back and ahem a certain episode 2 of a certain aquatic based story that fell into my lap instead of doing my Uni work. Yep, i’m 20 quid worse off, but bloody hell I enjoyed it!

    • avatar zarbisupremo says:

      A certain aquatic based story ? Warriors Of The Deep ?

  21. avatar ZeroRoom says:

    I’m amazed that the US price is actually cheaper than the UK price. Oddly here in Australia it’s different again. $14.95AU (which equates to about $14US or £9 so I guess we got screwed with the UK price style too. On the other hand, living in Australia, I have to pay $11.95 a month to be able to access a truncated version of the BBC iPlayer so even If the serials got put up there I’d be paying close to the same.
    There is however an issue that no has bought up here yet and that is that often the prices of things on iTunes differ so widely because of regional laws. Apple doesn’t set the prices for any iTunes content – the content owner does. However on top of that there are sometimes local taxes or loadings (or lack thereof) that can affect the price of that content.
    Here in Australia recently they actually had a Parliamentary enquiry, to which Apple and Google (among others) where subpoenaed to attend. The intent of the enquiry was demand answers from these big players as to why digital content was more expensive in Australia than it was in the US and why the prices didn’t also fluctuate with the exchange rate. It turned out as a result of this enquiry that not only did neither Apple or Google have any say in the prices as the content providers where affecting prices with a minefield of intellectual property red tape (the same reasons basically that DVD are released with set region codes for each area of the world rather than being universal like VHS, and is the same reason why there are different iTunes stores in every country – Apple originally wanted there just to be one universal store) but that also taxes designed to promote and protect local content were levied on ‘foreign’ content even when it was delivered via the Internet.
    So while the BBC may be a government organization ostensibly it’s highly likely it may still have to pay a different tax rate on sales of product in the UK than it does in the US. It’s crazy and illogical yes, but then it’s crazy too that BBC Worldwide has to pay rights fees to other sections of the BBC and vis a versa when they share the same content, so it’s highly likely some equally bureaucratic nonsense is responsible for the price discrepancy here.

    • That, ZeroRoom, is the best comment on this thread. Constructive, realistic and managing not to be rude.

      Hey (nearly) everyone else, do you think you could try commenting like this?

      • avatar ZeroRoom says:

        Thank you Christian! It’s an interesting subject and well worthy of discussion, but it’s certainly no reason to switch into ‘keyboard warrior’ mode :)

  22. avatar Al says:

    If they’d said there would be no DVD issue I’d care, but there will be DVDs so I really don’t care if they use iTunes for previewing.

  23. avatar IGettings says:

    To be honest, I was so caught up in the excitement, I barely noticed the price (and I ain’t rich). I think on reflection some aspects of all of this will be discussed in years to come, but at the moment I am just going to repress any questions and will enjoy the experience. (By the way, I have never used itunes before – and it has to be one of the most confusing websites in the history of the internet! It is like playing a gamer quest just to navigate it.)

  24. Incidentally, has anyone noticed the release date on the screenshot? This isn’t an error. This is when the slot was reserved on iTunes.

    This means BBC WW has had two months to arrange all of this and still only managed a single distribution channel.

    If they’d used Google Play too they could have increased digital sales considerably

    • avatar Adi Himpson says:

      Google Play’s percentage of the global VOD market is *tiny*. In the UK TV shows only launched at the beginning of August.
      In addition to iTunes Xbox or others would have been far more sensible choices in terms of market reach, especially considering all the people whinging about not being able to get the episodes on their telly.
      But as I said already more services at launch = more potential for leakage before the official announcement. The more people you tell secrets to, the less likely they are to stay secret. Going only with the biggest online provider was the sensible thing to do in terms of balancing risk vs availability.

    • avatar Chris Searle says:

      As a developer of apps for both iOS and Android I can tell you exactly why the BBC would chose Apple as their distribution channel above Play etc, they will be addressing a market willing to pay for goods and not have their hard won possessions stolen.

      Your may feel, or even desire for some reason, that ‘iPhone’ dominance is shrinking but I’m afraid market share does not tell anywhere near the whole story if you are a content provider. There may be a glut of cheap Android smart/feature phones flooding the market and are being snapped up by the technologically uneducated as they are being handed their free ‘upgrade’, but unfortunately this market is neither likely to use their device for the smartphone features (web, apps etc) or, more importantly, buy any content.

      The result of this is that this larger market share is actually a very poor market to sell content, couple with this the proliferation of piracy on Android’s ‘open’ operating system and you can begin to see that Google Play may not be anyone’s first choice, or even a viable choice if you are taking distribution and protection of your company’s property seriously.

      As iTunes (whatever your personal feelings about it is) is available on both Mac, iOS and PC on a global scale I would say it makes perfect sense to chose this option and this option alone. It is available to the largest number of customers, including you.

      Let’s be fair to the BBC, a financial decision or not (which clearly it is, and who can blame them, Enterprises is a business after all) it enables anyone with a Mac or PC the option to see these rare finds instantly coinciding with their announcement day, how exciting and what brilliant marketing for our show, as the iTunes chart figures bear testimony!

      Alternatively they could have announced these finds and then made you wait or a DVD release as usual, either way, as you have elected to wait, it makes no difference to you if they are available on iTunes or not.

      As for the price difference, it’s called VAT. If the extra £3.99 for a story not seen in nearly 50 years is really too much to bear then you are probably best waiting to pay the £13.75 for the DVD!

      I realise as a news site you need to drum up copy, but this? really? just enjoy the moment!

      • I realise as a news site you need to drum up copy, but this? really? just enjoy the moment!

        Yes, you’re right. This was cynical link bait that in no way reflects the frustrations of fans.


        • avatar Chris Searle says:

          You can please some of the people some of the time…

        • avatar Chris Searle says:

          BTW I wasn’t meaning to imply you we’re hit whoring, sorry if you thought otherwise.

  25. avatar paybaragon says:

    I think its a great editorial. Criticizing the BBC management of Doctor Who was NEVER an ‘ungrateful’ thing for Who-fans to do. A lot of times it’s been an absolute necessity.

  26. avatar FrancoPabloDiablo says:

    To be fair, I suppose iTunes just caters to the large prominent target audience of iPrats.

  27. Hmm.

    Some people seem to be posting under the misapprehension that Kasterborous is a news site.

    Kasterborous was started as a reviews and opinions site. News is just something that happens.

    This editorial is – steal yourselves – an opinion. It isn’t fact (other than the bit about iTunes being the most atrocious piece of bloatware on a Windows PC masquerading as something useful) and is just a viewpoint.

    Similarly the replies are in the vast majority views, not facts.

    There seems to be a decline in certain posts towards name-calling, obscene insults and general rudeness. Please do keep in mind that we are here to discuss Doctor Who, in a friendly manner. If you disagree with something, please offer an argument.

    Finally, if you cast insults, you’ll be banned. Unless I happen to find you a bit of a clown, in which case I’ll make you look even more ridiculous. ;)

    • avatar Joyce says:

      Christian, surely the biggest slab of bloatware to run on a pc is, er, windows itself. iTunes can’t come close.

      • As an operating system I don’t think you can count Windows, although I certainly sympathise with your point :D

  28. avatar Jerzy says:

    You should also notice, that it is not possible to buy tv shows from itunes in many countries, even in EU. So this decision just sucks.

    • avatar vaguely says:

      Welcome to the world of licensing.

  29. avatar Mugen Pharoah says:

    I’m not bothered about digital release per se but I’m with Christian on the infuriating BBC Apple worship. It permeates the Beeb. They must have made a shady deal.

    Just imagine if the BBC had released these episodes cross platform. If they had released them free on YouTube or something they would be receiving muchos fan love.

    Unfortunately when dealing with Apple and their closed source money haemorrhaging system the BBC seems to have caught the disease despite being a national state funded broadcaster.

    Happy and sad times to be a Doctor Who fan.

    • avatar vaguely says:

      The BBC’s Android team is three times the size of its iOS team because of the fragmentation that :”open” brings.

      In any line of work it is quite reasonable to do business with the people who make doing business hassle-free. Deal with.

      Ohm and iPlayer was originally Windows-only (and Windows DRM), but let’s not let facts get in the way of a rant.

  30. avatar Jim Mclean says:

    An incredible return of negative comments either riding a wave of sneer (why can’t you just celebrate a great bit of Who news like me/why can’t you agree that Apple products are great like me) when the editorial is clearly about neither. You can celebrate a good bit of news AND question a policy that is a current topic – it’s hardly like Christian is special and the only voice on this… he is doing what editorials should do: reflect a current hot question. If that question doesn’t interest, move along. If it does intellectually, debate. It’s simple ettiquette that comment sections across the web lack. Too often it becomes an ego battle based on the audacity that someone thinks their opinion should deserve an article over the readers, but that’s the nature of a magazine construct, which Kasterborous is. Thankfully there were some good counterpoint about pricing which were informative. Personally I will wait for the DVD. I’ve waited this long I can wait a bit longer for a special package than a quickfire release, but that’s me!

  31. avatar TimeChaser says:

    Personally I would have preferred to get them through Google Play because I have it on my tablet (a Samsung). I still use iTunes as an easy way to manage my music ripped from CD, but I have never used it to purchase anything. I am not a fan of Apple because I think they are too proprietary with a lot of their programs and their products cost way too much. I have a Samsung tablet because it was cheaper than an iPad, and is I think better value for money since it has slots for micro-SD cards (which iPads do not).

    That said, since I was born long after these stories had gone missing and have only ever read the novelizations or read about them in the reference books, I’m too impatient to wait for DVD releases, and I don’t even know if the given release dates are UK only or worldwide so we can get them here in the states (you hear that BBC, there are fans here too!), so I have bit the bullet and bought them on iTunes. But only because the BBC twisted my arm in the first place.

  32. I’m not buying the iTunes version either. I live in the US and Amazon hasn’t even put them up for preorder yet. I am assuming that I will get them eventually, if not I’ll thing of something.

    iTunes Store and iTunes for Windows is a pretty awful program. I’ve been using it since version 3 (It was much more sprightly then). They lost me with the last update, when they removed Coverflow and changed the entire interface to make it easier. For reason, Critics loved it, Fans hated it. I downgraded to a previous version>

    The problem is that I haven’t found anything that handles truly large media libraries better. I’ve used Media Monkey, Winamp and several others. I’ve concluded that the problem is related to the way Windows indexes it’s files. iTunes doesn’t use DDA as far as I can tell so it’s just the request through Windows.

    I buy almost nothing from iTunes Store. Amazon in the US offers the same product (mostly) DRM free (music anyway).

    I don’t like Apple and I don’t trust them. I was customer in the 80′s and I have very vivid memories of the company LYING to it’s customers, lauding technical achievements and then abandoning them. I felt gulled. Microsoft did that as well, but I expected that from them.

    As far as price, I have a very simple rule. I will pay for something ONCE and only ONCE. And only for things I actually USE. You can try and charge me for digital copies, upgrades, so forth, but if I bought the content one time, I own the right to view/listen to the content in any way I choose. I will happily download a torrent of digital copy of something I’ve bought, guilt free to make my life easier.

    If I download something and like it, I’ll gladly buy a CD or DVD or whatever. If I don’t like it, I delete it.I could easily download all the Doctor Who videos from the web, but I bought them. I like them and I watch them so I don’t mind paying, once.

    I think the BBC is missing a bet with limiting itself to iTunes, especially from an availability point of view, but I would wager that iTunes wanted a period of exclusivity and paid for it. BBC accountants probably crunched the expected sales figure and decided that they could net more money by dealing solely with Apple.

    • avatar Chris Searle says:

      “If I download something and like it, I’ll gladly buy a CD or DVD or whatever. If I don’t like it, I delete it.I could easily download all the Doctor Who videos from the web, but I bought them. I like them and I watch them so I don’t mind paying, once.”

      Ooh, that’s a very shaky way to justify your content theft,

      If you walk into a shop took something, consumed it, yet told the owner you were not going to pay because it wasn’t to your taste I would expect he may be slightly angry!

      It is theft and the fact you have concocted a justification system to avoid any guilt I’m afraid says more about you and also why the BBC need to be cautious about their choice of distribution system

      • avatar MWRuger says:

        That’s a false comparison. Surely you understand the difference between a physical good, that costs money to produce and a digital one that costs the same to produce regardless of the number of copies?

        Had this discussion dozens of times. I’m perfectly satisfied with my ethical stance, if not my legal one. Plenty of things are unethical but legal.

        If they broadcast this and I use my DVR to digitize and play it back later is that illegal? IN the US, the Supreme Court ruled it is legal.

        What is the difference if I listen to an album streaming from the web or download it and listen?

        In the US many things that are under copyright are not in Europe. If I buy an Import, I’m I breaking the law? For example many of Elvis’s recording fell into public domain 6 years ago, but not here in the US. As a result EU members can get very nice compilations of the recordings, reasonably priced.

        I pay for what I watch and listen to, once. The only thing shaky is your argument.

        • avatar Chris Searle says:

          I don’t object to you ‘paying once’ (although this obviously gives you moral carte blanche to exploit all sorts of things) but your admission that you freely download content and only pay for that which you consider worthy.

          Surely you understand that digital content, whether it be music, movies, an app, literature etc costs money to produce in creativity and labour.

          Your argument that there is a minimum cost of reproduction and therefore such content should have different rules compared to a physical object is spurious.

          To consume other people’s work until you find something which you deem worthy of remuneration is, as you rightly say, unethical.

          Do you pay on the way out of a movie theatre? Do you put your money down as you leave a gig? Do you cough up only if you have enjoyed the football game?

          No, stop stealing.

          • avatar mwruger says:

            Read more closely. I never said it was unethical. I said it is illegal. The two are NOT EQUIVALENT. It’s lazy thinking to assume that legal behavior equates to ethical behavior.

            Do I have to buy all the music I hear on the radio?

            Do I have to pay for TV I watch at a friend’s house?

            How about if they rent a movie? Should I pay?

            If I hold a film festival and run 19 films over the, should I charge them for the cost of buying the films? After all, they are consuming other people’s work without paying for it.

            What if the artist gives you permission to download their stuff despite having a record label?

            Should I tip before I even get served?

            You you ever heard of “try before you buy”?

            What about library books, CD’s & Videos? Isn’t that, by your definition, stealing content without paying for it? (Won’t all those elderly library patrons be shocked to discover they are hardened criminals?)

            Not every download represents a lost sale. In my case they represent a sale. I probably would never have bought a single Scissor Sisters album if I hadn’t downloaded and like the first one. Same with the Fratellis.

            Like I said, I have heard all these arguments before.

            I have demanded my money back if a film is rubbish. I once was reimbursed for an entire performance because they advertised it as high Def, when it was very color desaturated. Totally distracting to La Traviata’s awesome music.

            If a band passes around a tip jar and they are awful, I don’t pay. But live performances are by definition unique, so I yes, if I go, I pay up front.

            I don’t got to sportsball events so I’m not sure.

            Again, it’s not so simple as you would like it to be.

            You may not agree with my position or reasoning, that’s fine. But at least think about the points I raised.

            I create IP of my own. I expect people to pay for it, If they use it or if they like it. (If they use it commercially they certainly must pay)

          • avatar Chris Searle says:

            “Do I have to buy all the music I hear on the radio?”

            No, the station does.

            “Do I have to pay for TV I watch at a friend’s house?”

            No, your friend does.

            “How about if they rent a movie? Should I pay?”

            No, they do.

            “If I hold a film festival and run 19 films over the, should I charge them for the cost of buying the films? After all, they are consuming other people’s work without paying for it.”

            No, you pay, and possibly get a licence.

            You download something for your use, you consume it, who pays?

            I’ve heard all the arguments before too, for and against, and no it’s not simple when all IP is essentially freely available on a trust basis.

            I guess we’ll agree to disagree on where we stand on that trust spectrum…

  33. avatar joesiegler says:

    Spoken, uh.. whined like a true Android fan. :)

    • Unfair, I think Joe. I’m not an Android fan either. However on my desk I have an iPad, a Kindle Fire and a Windows Phone (Nokia Lumia 920 in white, fact fans). I’d hardly call myself a fan of any of them.

      However thanks to my daily exposure to a myriad of technologies I’m more than able to assess iTunes for Windows as a crime against computing.

      • (I should actually add that what I am a fan of is the camera on the Nokia. Best mobile camera I’ve ever used, astonishing results every time.)

        • (In hindsight, actually I am an Android fan. Sometimes I have days when I just want to be a Luddite and eschew all technology. That was one of those days.)

    • avatar MWRuger says:

      Sorry, I have an iPhone. It was a gift. I own a Kindle Fire and reader. I also used a blackberry and a rocketbook. So no sale.

      But by all means defend Apple blindly. They love your money.

  34. avatar GallifreyanFallenAngel says:

    I don’t have iTunes, so I may have to wait for the DVDs to come out to watch the stories. I’m not going to watch any pirated episodes. The money could be used to help with further recoveries and restoration. Besides, I think some people need to be paid for working very hard to make the 50th year a little more special.

    • avatar Chris Searle says:

      The most sensible comment so far, yours should perhaps be the final word on the subject!

    • avatar MWRuger says:

      I’m with you! I’ll buy them if Amazon will sell them to me. (I’m sure they will, I suspect that delay is probably part of the region encoding ridiculousness that we have been living with forever and a day.

  35. avatar zocalouk says:

    I think it would have been better to find time in the broadcast schedule and do something that hadn’t happened in 45 years… broadcast them!

    • avatar Jim Mclean says:

      An obvious idea drowned in sea of interactive technology and consumerism. I seriously hadn’t considered that option automatically jumping to the logical export of DVD or web media. It’s a damn good point: should they not be broadcast as intended? Is it simply commerce that stops a broadcasting corporation from broadcasting long lost broadcasts?

      • avatar mwruger says:

        Yes. Corporations must milk every cent they can from the consumer cow. You’ll get canned if you let a single revenue stream slip away from you.Also, you probably go to hell as well if you don’t grab every penny.

  36. avatar Joe says:

    Horrible article

  37. avatar Jesse Conrad says:

    As an American fan, it frustrates me to see UK fans complaining about the prices differences between the US and the UK and that the US is getting the better deal. It frustrates me that many people think that using the exchange rates represents the cost of living in each country. NO, it does not! The exchange rates represent the *value* of a country’s currency.

    Christian, you mentioned that $9.99 equates around £6 in the UK, which is based on the exchange rate. To reflect the actual cost of living in the UK, an iTunes download costing around £10 is probably right. Take a look at the actual cost of other items in each country:


    Combo meal at McDonald or similiar – $6.00
    Milk (1 litre) – $1.00
    eggs (a dozen) – $2.00
    Internet (6mbps, unlimited data, cable) – $45.00
    Cinema (one seat) – $10.00


    Combo meal at McDonald or similiar – £5.00
    Milk (1 litre) – £.98
    eggs (a dozen) – £2.00
    Internet (6mbps, unlimited data, cable) – £20.00
    Cinema (one seat) – £8.00

    So based on these figures, you’d be paying dirt cheap for an iTunes download at £5.99 compared to an American fan paying $10.00.

    • Hi Jesse, great post, thanks.

      I’m not sure how this works in real day-to-day terms because as you might have noticed above, I’m regularly paid in dollars and then lose 40% in the currency exchange, so perhaps my interpretation of the pricing is skewed.

      • avatar vaguely says:

        Then you should be taking that 40% risk into account when pricing (which is the main reason for the price difference between the UK and US online stores – they know how to manage currency risk)

        • avatar zarbisupremo says:

          I’m in France this week and it’s €7.90 for a Big Mac Meal, and at least €11 or €12 for a burger meal in Disneyland Paris. Exchange rate is about €1.15 to £1. In Glasgow, it’s £3.99 for a Big Mac Meal. It’s cheaper for booze from the French supermarkets though :-D.

    • avatar ZeroRoom says:

      Now I’m sad :( The exchange puts the US and Australian dollar close to equal ($AU worth about .96c to US $1 at time of post) yet this is how your cost of living examples break down in Australia:

      Combo meal at McDonald or similar – $8.00
      Milk (1 litre) – $2.95
      eggs (a dozen) – $4.00
      Internet (6mbps, data capped at 150GB on peak, 150GB off peak, copper) – $49.95
      Cinema (one seat) – $18.00
      And best of all – cup of coffee – $4.95!

    • avatar Jim mclean says:

      I am not sure how easy it is to run a day to day living comparison. Though even by those figures bar net costs the difference is mild (especially if we lump fuel into the equation). I imagine some of the pricing frustration comes from the show being public funded and no apparent reflection in the price. UKers perhaps feeling a little trailer burned still too. Small factors bristling in unison! The earlier point that the prices are more local linked imo should quell such sting and not apple or bbc profiting unreasonably. Imo all comes down to how desperate you are to see it. It’s not a bank breaking price. Id rather pay it as a package personally so wait i will!

  38. avatar Ian says:

    Waiting for the DVDs. Don’t care about iTunes, not interested in only being able to watch these on a computer. Am narked about a February release for Web though – if they can get Enemy out for next month why not Web too? Another three months is a bit piss-takery in this day and age.

    • avatar mwruger says:

      They may need additional time to complete animation for the missing episode. I hope that’s the case anyway.

  39. avatar Ian says:

    Is it down to cost they don’t seem to want to animate the missing episode of Web?

  40. Pingback: Doctor Who Missing Episodes | The Fantastic Flem-blog

  41. avatar Marc Atkinson says:

    I’m waiting for the DVDs… As a low income family I can’t justify buying them twice… Also I do think it’s wrong that the download is cheaper in America… I think all us UK fans just want to be tret the same as USA fans… This year Ive really felt a USA biase towards the show from the BBC ..’. Treat us all equally, BBC’…..

    • avatar mwruger says:

      As an American I agree with you completely, we should all be on equal footing. Unfortunately, the way DRM works is .pointlessly complicated and adds unnecessary cost to the system and varies from region to region.

      But take heart! American fans have to pay upwards of 50 dollars to get Earthshock whilst an unplayable region 2 DVD can be had for 4 dollars.

  42. This is not a question of money for me — I have spent $thousands$ in recent years on my love of Who, and I’m more than willing to pay to get early access to these episodes before the DVD’s come out. Unfortunately BBC didn’t give me that option, so I will need to either wait for the DVD’s or get the episodes from an “unauthorized” source.

    I am not a customer of Apple, nor will I ever be. I’ve spent more than a decade of my life as a political activist in support of IT property rights. As I discussed in a recent submission to the Canadian government on this issue http://c11.ca/brief , Apple is one of the worst infringers of IT property rights. They also actively lobby for legalizing and legally protecting infringements of IT property rights.

    While Apple is a direct infringer, inducing people into infringing situations puts the BBC in the same league for those of us trying to protect these property rights as ISOHunt and PirateBay does for copyright infringement.

    I agree it is great news that these stories were found, and great news that the BBC decided to make individual episodes available before they have completed the DVD sets. It is clearly bad news that they decided to make an exclusive distribution deal with such a highly controversial company.

    I can understand people who may opt out of allowing their own property rights to be infringed, and instead infringe the copyright of others — DRM has never reduced copyright infringement, and in nearly every anecdote I have heard of has encouraged people to infringe copyright.

    BTW: The “International” iPlayer is a similar failure by the BBC. Having this be Apple infringing devices only excludes those of us who use computers that are owner-secured rather than controllable by third parties. I am more than willing to pay a subscription fee to access iPlayer in Canada, but BBC hasn’t yet offered that to me at any price.

    We live in a time where the importance of cyber-security will be increasing, and yet all these direct (by apple) and contributory (by BBC) infringements of IT property rights only decreases security by creating back-doors where non-owners control computers.

  43. avatar zarbisupremo says:

    Well, I’m waiting for the DVDs. I’ll buy the vanillas then re-sell them when the versions wit special features are released. I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to downloading, I’ve only really been doing it for a year, but so far it’s only really been DLC for my PS3. I don’t download films / TV series as a) It’s often cheaper to buy these things on DVD, and b) if I don’t like what I’ve downloaded. My collection might take up room, but at least I can see, feel and hold it. I have to admit though, that I can’t help being annoyed that the Americans are getting these episodes for a lot less than the fans who live in the series’ country of origin.

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