TWIDW Update: PBS Stations May Lose Rights To Doctor Who Reruns
- Short version - it looks like the Sci-Fi Channel is negotiating for
exclusive rights to reruns of the original Doctor Who series in the US,
replacing the existing system where individual public TV stations air it in
Maryland Public Television http://www.mpt.org , one of eight public TV
systems that still airs reruns of the original series of Doctor Who episodes
(An Unearthly Child through Survival), is sending out alerts to viewers that
the future of Doctor Who on their station (and any public TV station) is in
doubt. Here's the message I received:
"Hello. I'm making an effort to contact all of the Dr. Who fans that have
recently contacted us to inquire about Maryland Public Television's Dr. Who
"I want you to be aware you may see changes in Dr. Who programming on MPT.
"At present episodes are being skipped because they ahve not been offered to
us for broadcast.
"Sadly, we are even further limited at present because the BBC is
considering terminating PBS's rights to air this series and awarding
exclusive rights to the Sci-Fi Channel. Until this is resolved, MPT can only
air episodes which it currently has in-house, a total of just 30 episodes.
Maryland Public Television"
Maryland Public TV airs the episodes in "movie format", so that may refer to
30 stories. The stations airing the series are at different points in the 26
year run, so each station probably has a different set and number of stories
in house that can be rerun. Fans have been wondering what the status of
Doctor Who on MPT was since the September schedule revealed that most of the
Tom Baker stories were being skipped.
It's not a big surprise that there would be negotiations for a cable network
to get the national rights. The new Doctor Who series should air in the US
sometime in 2005 on *some* cable channel. It might create fresh interest in
the original series. If Sci-Fi (or anyone) has national rights to the old
episodes, they would be prepared to cash in on public interest.
For fans who live in areas where Doctor Who still airs (full list below), it
would mean the loss of being able to watch the series over the air. And if
you have Comcast cable be aware that some Comcast systems have moved Sci-Fi
to the digital tier. For most US fans, having Doctor Who on Sci-Fi would
mean they could finally see the reruns on TV again after many years
(assuming Sci-Fi would actually air the episodes).
As of this writing, it is still unknown which network(s) are negotiating for
rights to air the new Doctor Who episodes in the US.
The stations airing Doctor Who in the USA:
New Hampshire Public TV http://www.nhptv.org - Saturdays at 11PM, 1 episode
WYBE 35 Philadelphia, PA http://www.wybe.org - Saturdays at 11PM, 2 episodes
Maryland Public TV http://www.mpt.org - Saturdays at roughly Midnight,
complete movies each week
WCET 48 Cincinnati, OH http://cetconnect.org - Saturdays at 11PM, 2 episodes
WILL 12 Urbana, IL http://www.will.uiuc.edu - Saturdays at 11:40PM, 1
episode per week
Iowa Public TV http://www.iptv.org - Saturdays at 11:35PM, 2 episodes per
KUED 7 Salt Lake City, UT http://www.kued.org - Saturdays at 11:30PM, 1
episode per week
KBTC 28 Tacoma, WA http://www.kbtc.org - Saturdays at 7PM (repeat at
12:30AM), 2 episodes per week
This is unlikely to affect the status of Doctor Who on BBC Kids
http://www.bbckids.ca in Canada, as Sci-Fi Channel is not available in
Benjamin F. Elliott
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/thisweekindoctorwho - This Week In Doctor Who