Underbelly: articles

Underbelly on telly...over the airwaves from Tassie

GANGLAND drama Underbelly can be seen on Geelong TV screens thanks to a freak of nature.

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Warm weather has made a mockery of a suppression order banning the program's free-to-air broadcast in Victoria, with atmospheric interference allowing the $13-million production to beam into Geelong via Tasmania's WIN TV frequency.

Television technicians believe current weather and subsequent changes in the atmosphere are responsible for the relayed signal.

Residents in Newtown, the Surf Coast, Bellarine Peninsula and Teesdale have reported viewing the Tasmanian station, which broadcasts the majority of the Nine Network's programs.

Cricket fans have also benefited from the Tasmanian frequency after Nine's Mount Dandenong signal lost power during parts of the Test series.

One technician described the interference as fortuitous viewing, a phenomenon where outside signals can be broadcast into foreign areas under certain conditions.

He said the large body of water from Tasmania to the Victorian coast had also allowed the frequency waves to travel further.

WIN TV management was yesterday shocked by the discovery.

A network spokeswoman said the broadcast was technically impossible and was a freak of nature.

"This has put the fear of God into us because obviously the program is subject to a suppression order in Victoria," a spokeswoman said.

"It is very rare that Geelong gets Tasmania's signal. We call it atmospheric, fortuitous viewing. It is a freak and we can't do anything to stop it."

Supreme Court Justice Betty King banned the airing of Underbelly, which depicts Melbourne's bloody gangland war, in Victoria during a hearing in Geelong last month.

She imposed the order on the grounds it could prejudice a jury in the upcoming trial of an accused underworld killer.

As the latest episode from across Bass Strait depicted an underworld shooting, Victoria's Channel Nine viewers had to settle for an episode of CSI: Miami.

However, the network's signal all but disappeared in homes across the city.

Antenna specialists yesterday said frustrated viewers had been inundated with calls to fix supposedly faulty aerials.

They later had to assure customers that outside influences were to blame.

"It was just a co-channelling problem, where the Channel Nine (WIN TV) Tasmania signal interferes with Channel Nine," one repair man said.

"It happens occasionally but more so in summer."

Another repair man said Bellarine Peninsula and Surf Coast residents were likely to receive repeated mixed signals.

"It's just a bit of a freak of nature with the weather conditions. Most people along the coast and the peninsula will occasionally get Channel Nine from Tasmania," he said.

"The frequency might go in and out. It beams off one of the spheres of the atmosphere and bounces back again."

By Daniel Breen
March 07, 2008
Geelong Advertiser