Cable TV

Hong Kong clubs under Casbaa piracy scrutiny

MUMBAI: The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa), today took new steps to stamp out pay-TV piracy in Hong Kong, issuing "cease and desist letters" to a number of bars and clubs in Hong Kong screening pay-TV services without legal pay-TV subscriptions.

Following a High Court ruling and support from the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (OFTA) this new action aims to combat Pay-TV signal piracy across the SAR. If these venues fail to immediately discontinue screening pay-TV programming without obtaining legitimate subscriptions to licensed pay-TV services they are liable to further legal proceedings in the High Court of Hong Kong.

The cease and desist letters were issued in parallel with the launch of a "pay-TV piracy awareness" campaign, under which Casbaa will issue letters to 300 bars and clubs in Hong Kong putting them on notice of what constitutes the legal and illegal screening of pay-TV services.

Under Hong Kong law bars and clubs may only display pay-TV channels, such as ESPN or Star Sports, under an appropriate subscription from a Hong Kong licensed pay-TV operator such as Hong Kong Cable Television

Limited (i-Cable). Other pay-TV operators such as UBC of Thailand, Multichoice of South Africa and Dream of the Philippines are not authorised to offer subscriptions in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, besides Hong Kong Cable Television (i-Cable), the licensed pay TV operators are PCCW (NOW), Yes TV and Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting (ExTV), all of whom are members of Casbaa.Law firms Herbert Smith and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer have been retained by Casbaa to advise on these matters.

Last year, Casbaa, together with various copyright owners, was involved in successful pay-TV signal piracy actions against suppliers of equipment that enabled the unlawful reception of pay TV programmes within Hong Kong (Satellite Television Asian Region Ltd & Others v Alpha Communications Technology Ltd & Others).

Pay-TV channels named in the 2003 court actions included CNN, Discovery Networks Asia, National Geographic Channels, Cartoon Network, ESPN Star Sports and STAR Group. CASBAA also represents the likes of MTV Asia, HBO Asia, BBC World, Walt Disney Television, Sony Pictures Television, TVB International, Nickelodeon, CNBC and Bloomberg Television.

Earlier this month John Tsang, Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology, gave a commitment that the regulator, OFTA, would be making weekly visits to "black spots" where unauthorised pay-TV decoders are on sale and that these visits would be followed up with appropriate action.

Simon Twiston Davies, the CEO of CASBAA, applauded Tsang's comments and said the pay-TV piracy awareness letters and cease and desist letters to the bars and clubs are part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of pay-TV piracy in Hong Kong and across the region.

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