Casbaa welcomes Australia's move against pay TV theft

MUMBAI: The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) has welcomed a decision by the Australian government to criminalise the act of dishonestly accessing pay-TV services throughout Australia.

Last month Attorney-General Philip Ruddock who represents the Australian government said, “Following a six month review by my Department, the Australian Government has decided that criminal penalties should be available against those who access Pay TV broadcasts without authorisation and payment of the subscription fee."

Under the new measures it will also be an offence for a pay TV subscriber to distribute a subscription broadcast to other premises or for a subscriber to use the broadcast for commercial purposes if the appropriate subscription fee has not been paid.

Pay TV signal theft is a major concern for Australia’s pay television industry which estimates it costs the industry in excess of $50 million per year in lost revenue.

Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies says, "Australia has made a forward-looking decision on this important question. The pay-TV industry can only thrive if people who enjoy our content pay a fair price for it. This ensures that everyone across the value chain – from the cable-TV installer to the actors, athletes, musicians and news reporters who create our content – earns a fair return on their labours."

Casbaa says that it hopes that Australia’s decision will be replicated by other governments in the region which do not already treat pay-TV signal theft as a crime.

Casbaa states that it believes the governance and protection of intellectual property rights will play an increasingly important role in encouraging economic growth across Asia and is already one of the criteria utilised by the international investment community to determine which markets receive foreign direct investment.

The Association notes that while $37.5 million is estimated to be lost on an annual basis to pay-TV piracy in Australia, the figures for the rest of the region are even more startling. In Hong Kong it was $25 million in 2004; in Thailand it was a huge $141 million; in the Philippines it was $70; and in Taiwan it was $114 million.

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