ABC RN broadcasts Dracula: international and time shifting listeners despair

June 29, 2007
Filed under: Commentary 

SFFaudio Commentary

ABC RADIO NATIONAL's The Philosopher's ZoneABC Radio National, Australia’s public radio broadcaster, is going to be airing an abridged reading of Dracula by Bram Stoker. We’d like to tell you all about it, but there’s very little to say. We’d like to point you towards the audio index where the novel would normally be archived for a full eight weeks after the broadcasts, but we can’t. Reason is:

“Due to copyright restrictions this reading is unavailable as audio on demand.”

Now of course it’s plausible that this particular recording of Dracula, one of the most recorded audiobooks of all time, is covered by copyright. In fact, it’d be damn unlikely that it isn’t covered by copyright. Few if any public broadcasters are using creative commons licenses. What the disclaimer should actually say is:

“Due to copyright restrictions, not normally present on our regular 21st century novels, this 19th century novel is unavailable for audio on demand.”

Why then did RN choose a BBC abridgment of a public domain novel that has such restrictions? Why choose to air a classic novel, a freely available text, and get a version that precludes both “audio on demand” and podcasting rights? Why ABC? WHY?

Are we to assume the restrictions weren’t a deal breaker in this case, because this particular abridgement is by far the best reading of Dracula ever recorded?!?!

Maybe it is. Listeners to the 2003 BBC broadcast of this version had the following to say about the production:

“Over the years, I have listened to many reading versions of Dracula. The problem with a single reader for the story is that it is not very convincing for a male reader to read Mina’s diaries. I am glad this BBC version finally got it right. With many readers giving their account of the story, the realistic and scary elements have been added to give listener a better feel of the story unfold. I hope in the future,multi-readers production can be a standard practice.”

“I also feel that in the case of Dracula, it is better to have multiple readers. The talented actors involved in this production have, in my opinion, brought this story vividly to life. It’s particularly nice to hear James D’Arcy – he has a wonderful voice for radio.”

Now this is the kind of bedtime story you want, laced with blood, horror, and sexually charged gothic opulence. In this new adaptation of Bram Stoker’s classic, the various diary accounts of the four main characters are read by Michael Fassbender, James Greene, Gillian Kearney and James D’Arcy … Of course, you won’t sleep a wink.

Those lucky folks in Australia who’ve got the ability to listen live to all ten parts as they air can still enjoy it. Here are the details for all three of you lucky devils…

Dracula
By Bram Stoker; Read by Michael Fassbender, Gillian Kearney, James D’Arcy and James Greene
10 parts – [ABRIDGED]
Broadcaster: ABC Radio National
Broadcast: Weekdays, July 2nd – 13th @ 2pm (repeats 11pm)
The most famous of all vampire stories, first published in 1897 and never out of print since. Dracula tells of a vampiric count, pursued relentlessly by those who would see him destroyed.


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