The path is now clear for Channel Nine to air Underbelly in Victoria after arrested fugitive Tony Mokbel pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Victorian court.
In 2008, Justice Betty King banned Underbelly from being screened in Victoria due to pending cases.
The ban thwarted Nine’s national launch at the eleventh hour but uniquely created a buzz about the show which it has inherited for years.
Nine later aired edited versions of the first five episodes after the injunction was partially lifted, but has still not aired the full unedited series.
In that time many Victorians have managed to see the hit series, mostly via DVDs that were sold interstate or illegally at markets and car parks. Nine was left to play CSI: Miami episodes in its place, and to this day Victoria remains ahead on episodes compared to some other states.
Nine will now have the option to screen the gangster series in its entirety.
“We are looking at it seriously,” a Nine source told the Herald Sun.
While it could be tempting to screen the show on a multichannel, the likelihood is that the audience that hasn’t already seen the show probably still hasn’t made the full switch to digital. Nine would be wise to find room on its primary channel to bring it to that portion of the audience.
Mokbel, who has become known as “Fat Tony”, was captured in Greece in 2007 and portrayed in the series by actor Robert Mammone (pictured, left).
Mokbel is yet to be sentenced.