Satellites

Casbaa files signal piracy suit against Hong Kong bar

MUMBAI: The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) is continuing its efforts to stamp out satellite signal piracy in Hong Kong. In its latest move, it has taken legal action against a bar that is airing unlicensed TV broadcasters.

 

Under Hong Kong law, bars and clubs may only broadcast pay TV channels under an appropriate subscription from a Hong Kong licensed pay TV operator. Casbaa, however, says that many venues pick up illegal signals from operators outside of the country, including UBC in Thailand and Dream in the Philippines. In October 2004, it was estimated that the gross cost associated with pay-TV signal piracy in Hong Kong amounted to HK$200 million over a 12-month period.

Casbaa and its members have been seeking to raise the consciousness of bars and clubs in Hong Kong that screening pay TV services without legal subscriptions is against the law. Casbaa chairman Marcel Fenez said, ?It is with regret that we are now taking this step. Although we have reached out to the food and beverage industry in particular to raise awareness of the illegal nature of unauthorised distribution of pay TV signals in public venues we find that these laws are still not taken seriously by many bars and clubs. Some bars refuse to cease these activities despite being warned several times; we have no choice but to take the matter to the courts.?

 

 

In parallel with the lawsuit Casbaa is issuing a further series of advisory letters to bars and clubs, as well as to private members clubs, noting that pay TV television signal theft is not to be tolerated. This issue will be raised with club managements and, if necessary, action will be taken against those that continue to infringe.

Casbaa has also stated that it is pleased that some progress is being made. The majority of bar owners approached have given undertakings to cease screening illegal TV broadcasts.

"We commend those clubs and bars that screen only legitimate pay television broadcasts. And we continue to encourage bar-goers to contribute to Hong Kong?s economy by giving their patronage to businesses airing legal, Hong Kong-licensed TV services. We want people to enjoy their evenings out in bars and pubs, and to do so in a way that ensures adequate remuneration to Hong Kong?s service providers, international channel programmers, and the sports leagues who stage the games? Fenez added.

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 now Broadband Television. Other pay-TV operators such as UBC of Thailand, MultiChoice of South Africa and Dream of the Philippines are not authourised to offer subscriptions in Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, besides PCCW (now Broadband TV), the licensed pay-TV operators are Hong Kong Cable Television (i-Cable) and Galaxy Satellite Broadcasting (SuperSUN), all of whom are members of Casbaa.

?We are all committed to improving this alarming situation so the community is ultimately served with a wider choice and better programming. If vast sums continue to be stolen from the value chain, investment will fall and programming standards will decline? said Fenez.

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