Casbaa expresses concern over signal piracy during soccer World Cup in Hong Kong

MUMBAI: As the Fifa World Cup 2006 draws to a close on Sunday 9 July, the Cable and Satellite Broadcast Association of Asia (Casbaa) says that the unlicensed screening of the top-line matches in bars and clubs has been alarmingly widespread in Hong Kong.

Such blatant breaches of copyright are a worrying issue and a significant hurdle for Hong Kong’s efforts to position itself as a genuine “World City”.

While the World Cup has boosted Hong Kong bar revenues by up to 50 per cent independent estimates suggest that at least one-third of the cash has been generated by screening pirated TV programming from markets such as the Philippines and South Africa.

Casbaa chairman Marce Fenez says, “We are very concerned with the ongoing tolerance of widespread piracy in one of the world’s most advanced economies – Hong Kong. Despite efforts by Hong Kong to champion its world class status, when it comes to the basics of sports and entertainment intellectual property rights protection, it still lags behind other media hubs such as Singapore, Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo.”

According to The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Ranking 2005-2006, Hong Kong dropped seven places to 28 out of the 117 economies measured in the study. A weakening in the protection of intellectual property rights was partially attributable to the decline in Hong Kong’s ranking.

Fenez adds, “Collaboration on all fronts between the government, industry, bar and club owners and the general public is central to rectifying the situation and protecting Hong Kong’s reputation.

“Casbaa has been monitoring the market on behalf of its members and legal actions are planned against establishments screening unlicensed sports programming.”

Casbaa has also issued a public notice to reinforce the message that screening pay-TV services without legal subscriptions is against the law and that legal actions will be taken against bars and clubs that refuse to cease these activities.

Under Hong Kong law, bars and clubs may only display pay-TV channels under an appropriate subscription from Hong Kong licensed pay-TV operators such as Hong Kong Cable, now Television and TVB Pay Vision.

Overseas pay-TV operators such as Dream of the Philippines, MultiChoice of South Africa and UBC True of Thailand are authourised to offer pay-TV subscriptions in their respective jurisdictions and they cannot and do not offer subscriptions in Hong Kong. The display of overseas pay-TV channels in Hong Kong by bars and club owners, using special decoders is illegal.

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