Underbelly: articles

Victorians soon to see Underbelly

The Nine Network could screen hit gangland drama Underbelly in Victoria as early as next week, when the murder trial preventing it from being shown in the state is expected to conclude.

The final episode of the series will screen in all other states tonight and a DVD titled Underbelly Uncut will go on sale outside Victoria tomorrow.

Victorian Supreme Court Justice Betty King banned the multi-million dollar series from screening in Victoria in February, saying it could prejudice a murder trial.

The order will end when a verdict is reached in the trial of alleged underworld killer Evangelos Goussis, who is accused of killing gangland figure Lewis Moran.

Signs warning Victorians they cannot purchase the series will be placed in DVD retail and rental stores in towns bordering Victoria.

Customers in towns on the Victorian side of the NSW border are already calling stores wanting to reserve a copy.

Adam Reeves, who owns Family Videoland in Corowa, on the NSW side of the border, said he had been instructed not to rent the show to Victorians, including his customers from the smaller town of Wahgunyah on the other side of the Murray River.

Mr Reeves said he was supplied with warning signs by DVD distributors Roadshow Entertainment telling Victorians they cannot rent the popular series.

"It won't be too hard to get around it because people from Wahgunyah and Corowa are all mates," Mr Reeves said.

"It wouldn't be too hard for someone else who is a member to come in. It (the warning sign) is for appearances."

A Woolworths spokesman said there was a label on all Underbelly Uncut DVDs in its stores saying the DVD was not for sale, distribution or exhibition in Victoria.

Roadshow Entertainment marketing director Paddy Bryans confirmed representatives of the company had visited stores on the border to educate them about not actively promoting or selling the DVD to Victorian consumers.

"We are just putting the framework in place so that we are not condoning consumers from Victoria buying the DVD," Mr Bryans said.

"Not being able to sell it in Victoria limits the potential for the DVD, but there is plenty of interest in the other states."

However Victorians might not have to wait too long to see the series.

Once the jury deliver its verdict, Nine will be free to screen the show.

However, an application to extend the ban may be made.

Concerns have already been raised that screening the program could affect the trial of underworld figure Tony Mokbel and an appeal by Carl Williams.

But Mokbel's former lawyer Mirko Bagaric said the drugs fugitive had already received so much negative publicity that it would not matter if Underbelly screened.

Nine refused to comment.

A spokeswoman for the Office of Public Prosecutions was unable to comment today.

May 07, 2008