Victorians who have not already seen a pirated copy of Underbelly will now legally be able to view an edited version after the Nine Network was today allowed to air part of the series in the state.
Victoria’s Supreme Court has ordered Nine could broadcast an edited Victorian version of episodes one to five of the dramatised series on Melbourne’s gangland war.
After the decision, Nine announced it would air episodes one and two on Sunday night and the following episodes throughout the month.
However, episodes six to 13 remain off-limits, pending the completion of an upcoming trial of a plaintiff, identified only as X for legal reasons.
The series was banned from being aired in Victoria in February pending the outcome of the murder trial of Evangelos Goussis, but was screened around the rest of the nation with huge success.
With more than 100,000 DVD copies of the series then sold in all states except Victoria, accessing and watching the series illicitly became a state-wide pursuit.
In June, there were even reports of a pirated DVD of the series being shown to teenage prison inmates at Melbourne Juvenile Justice Centre.
With Goussis found guilty last month of the murder of underworld figure Lewis Moran, Nine created a Victorian-edited version, of episodes one to six only.
Put together to satisfy concerns of Victoria’s Director of Public Prosecutions Jeremy Rapke, this was originally set to screen in Victoria from this week.
However, an application was made in court to stop it being shown until after a verdict was reached in the trial of X.
Justice Peter Vickery today found there was “a real and definite tendency for episode six of the edited Victorian series of Underbelly to prejudice the trial of X” and banned it from being broadcast.
However, he gave the edited episodes one to five the go-ahead to be shown immediately.
Nine executive director Jeffrey Browne said the network was “thrilled” to be able to air the first five episodes in Victoria and Melbourne, where the series was based.
“We intend to try and have further episodes screened in Victoria and are working hard behind the scenes on a process to achieve that,” he said in a statement.
Underbelly portrays the underworld wars which raged in Melbourne from 1995 to 2004 that left 27 people dead.