Europe and our raw DVD deal
DVD region coding. That much maligned attempt by the studios to stop us sourcing our DVDs from outside of Europe - originally muted as a way of protecting international distribution rights and local distributor's investments, Region coding is now a laughable mechanism to enable distributors to release either substandard products in the UK or, worse, charge a premium for European product.
Region coding is an attempt to prevent us from getting hold of what we want from where we want - and instead of making local product appealing to reduce the level of personal imports the studios seem to be content to push things as far as they can and let the money roll in at the expense of their customers.
The vast majority of DVD buyers in the UK are limited to purchasing Region 2. And most of them aren't aware that it is sometimes possible to source cheaper or better discs from Europe. The fact is that the studios have a captive market and can do what they please.
The recent release of Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the US is a prime example of how we are getting over-charged - the American release retails at HALF the price of the UK discs. How can this be justified? DVD rental also appear to be here to stay - discs that are released as rental titles here are often released retail in the US earlier - we can wait many months to buy a disc that has been available in the US with more features and a better price.
Can we do anything about it? It's unlikely but not impossible - while two years ago the internet-aware UK DVD population was a significant percentage and could place enough pressure to make a difference, now that the format is mass-market we make up just a tiny slice of UK DVD consumers. However, we have recently proven that we can make a difference - persuading Fox to release the second season of Angel in widescreen, in effect becoming the only region (so-far) with a widescreen version of this TV series.