US TV bosses have disappointed Downton Abbey fans after announcing that the period drama will continue to be broadcast there months after it is aired in the UK.
Julian Fellowes’ hit series is currently shown in the US around four months later than UK viewers see it on ITV.
Some have argued that the delay encourages piracy, with fans desperate to watch it before they read spoilers about the plot online.
US First Lady Michelle Obama was reported to have asked ITV bosses for season three on DVD, ahead of its official US release date, because she was such a big fan of the show.
But Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) president Paula Kerger has insisted that new series will continue to air in January, and that the show was becoming a post-Christmas holiday tradition.
“It would be very hard for me to imagine putting it anywhere else than where it has seemed to have found a very strong audience,” she said.
The fourth series – shown in the UK in September – had more than 10 million viewers in the US when it kicked off on January 5.
A date for the premiere of series five has not yet been scheduled.
PBS is experimenting with a shorter delay for Sherlock, with the new series beginning on PBS shortly after it first aired in Britain on New Year’s Day.
But Sherlock’s co-creator Steven Moffat has said that any delay is too long.
“We can’t expect a show to go out in one country and expect people in another country to wait more than a day. The world has changed utterly. We’re going to be downloading all our television very, very soon, so the idea you have to wait is nonsense,” he has been quoted as saying.
PBS has also confirmed the date for the premiere of British sitcom Vicious, starring Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi as a bickering gay couple.
It was announced last year that the US broadcaster would show the sitcom, and now PBS says it will air in June.
The comedy attracted low ratings and failed to impress TV pundits in the UK but has been recommissioned for a second series by ITV.