According to an independent study conducted by Alex Malik, a former general counsel for the Australian Recording Industry Association, the popularity of one P2P application -- BitTorrent -- in Australia is driven in part by local television networks which "have adopted a strategy of being slow to air current episodes of popular TV shows".
Malik believes that by delaying the broadcast of these programmes, Australian TV programmers have increased the domestic demand for the shows. "As a result, impatient viewers have increasingly turned to BitTorrent to download their favourite shows," he said.
Malik told ZDNet Australia  that online forums dedicated to discussions about popular TV shows revealed that one in three of the conversations touches on where and how to pirate TV programmes on the Web. He said although it was hard to quantify the number of people illegally downloading shows through BitTorrent, there was a "substantial" number of people doing it.
"It's difficult to put a number on it because not a lot of people talk about [online pirating] especially since it's illegal. It's similar to illegal music file sharing ... not a lot of people admit to it but there is a substantial amount happening," he said.
Malik's research showed that Australians have to wait an average of eight months to see first-run episodes of popular programmes from overseas. For instance, it takes an average of four months to watch the latest episodes of top-rated shows like Lost and Desperate Housewives, currently being aired in Channel Seven.
Malik said local networks also delayed the telecast of top programmes during summer [in Australia] so as "not to waste successful programs" during the unofficial non-ratings period.
"These delays provide a window of opportunity for viewers to upload TV programmes after their American broadcast date, thereby making them available to viewers outside of the US, and viewers within the US who may have missed the program.
"In order to download these shows, all consumers require is a broadband connection and BitTorrent software. While download quality is variable, and depending on its source, BitTorrent users have found the quality to be satisfactory," the report said.
"While there are no accurate Australian BitTorrent usage figures, anecdotal evidence and reports from online forums suggest that Australians are downloading TV programmes in large quantities. Australians are also uploading programs like My Restaurant Rules and Rove," he added.
A previous survey released by Web monitoring company Envisional found Australia as the second largest downloader of online pirated TV programmes in the world (15.6 percent), second to the United Kingdom (18.5 percent) and ahead of the US (7.3 percent).
The report said that increased bandwidth, technological advances and a high demand of US-based TV shows are some of the reasons for the boom in online piracy. It also said that around 70 percent of the piracy occurs through BitTorrent.
A spokesperson from Channel Nine told ZDNet Australia  that "the major reason other countries around the world -- apart from the US -- are downloading [TV] series from the Internet is because the shows are US-based and are often seen many months after the original airdate".
Ben Coppin, chief operating officer at Envisional previously said in a statement that the number of people turning to piracy to satisfy their TV demands will only increase.
"If TV companies were to offer episodes for download at a small cost at the same time as they air offline they could generate revenue in the same way that Apple's iTunes does. However, they must be aware of the dangers of losing their core audience to a delivery method that is free, unregulated and open to anyone with an internet connection," Coppin said.
Malik said unless the TV networks devote immediate attention to the problem of unnecessary delays, "the television industry is doomed to repeat the mistakes of the music industry".
FreeTV and other networks have not responded despite repeated queries.
Recently, there has been an effort to clamp down on the use of BitTorrent technology to aid copyright infringement. The recording industry's first scalp was Perth-based Internet service provider Swiftel.
In March, the Music Industry Piracy Investigations Unit took the ISP to court. The hearing will resume on April 7.