Television

Thailand moves to improve pay TV piracy

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MUMBAI: The Thai government has outlined a ten point plan to improve the pay TV piracy environment within Thailand, including commitments by cable ops to respect the Intellectual Property Rights of pay TV networks, both local and international.



Thailand is currently on the United States' Intellectual Property Rights USTR 301 Watch List. The Thai authorities' clamp down on pay TV piracy comes at a time when Thailand is formally entering Free Trade Agreement talks with the US early this summer. Among the US' negotiating objectives are strengthened measures in Thailand that provide for the compensation of rights holders for the infringement of IPR and to provide for criminal penalties under Thai law sufficient to have a deterrent effect on piracy.



The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia, which has welcomed the Thai authorities' move, estimates there were US$370 million in gross losses to pay-TV piracy within Thailand in 2003. Casbaa and its member companies also conservatively estimate that there are in excess of one million unauthorised subscribers to pay-TV services in Thailand. It is estimated that Baht 1.5 billion (US$38.5 million) was lost to the Royal Thai Government in 2003 from foregone tax revenues such as pay-TV licensing fees, corporate taxes and VAT.



Casbaa is encouraging the Thai authorities to place the control of pay-TV piracy under the responsibility of a single government department, or an individual senior government official, which can act as a clearing house for this increasingly serious issue. Says Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies, "We applaud the concept of a focused official monitoring body and the requirement for detailed accountability on the number of subscribers. But what we now need is a genuine commitment to enforce this new regime. The new guidelines for pay-TV service providers must be introduced quickly and they must be adhered to."

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