Losses from pay TV piracy down 15pc with use of secure network

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 November, 2007, 12:00am


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Pay TV piracy in Hong Kong is estimated to result in total losses of HK$213 million this year, down 15 per cent from last year, a poll has found.

The industry expects losses will be further cut as more subscribers pay for the service through the highly secured internet protocol television service (IPTV), according to the survey conducted by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia and Standard Chartered Bank.

Simon Twiston Davies, the association's chief executive officer, said yesterday: 'The IPTV platform is much tougher for pirates and this helps channel operators retain integrity in distributing the content. It is more difficult to hack the system.'

The survey also found that total estimated losses in the regional pay TV service due to piracy would be US$1.54 billion this year, up from US$1.13 billion a year earlier.

'The net cost of piracy reduced 15 per cent over the same period last year due to competition driving service charges down,' Lee Beasley, director of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), said.

Legitimate pay TV users in Hong Kong number about 1.45 million. Illegitimate users remain at about 118,000, the same as last year, of which 98,000 are connected through illegal set-top boxes and 20,000 receive satellite overspill signals from satellite receiver dishes. Mr Beasley said the Hong Kong government was estimated to suffer tax losses of US$4.62 million this year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers figures.

Mr Twiston Davies said: 'We don't expect piracy to have dramatic changes in Hong Kong; it is stable as Hong Kong is a competitive market.'

He said the pay TV market in the city benefited from market competition. Subscribers were on the rise because of new player PCCW's Now TV pushing the service aggressively by securing exclusive rights to English Premier League football matches from this year to 2010.

His association, which represented 128 Asian-based corporations, took legal action last year against commercial distributors of unauthorised signals in public venues such as pubs during the World Cup football matches, he said.

'In China, there were cases where a whole cable platform was pirated on the internet,' he said. 'We feel optimistic as China is an evolving market and pay TV will be protected in the medium term.'

Earlier this year, the association called on the Hong Kong government to make all illicit broadcasting a criminal offence instead of imposing civil remedies on those using illegal satellite feeds.

Redd Samonte, supervisor of East End Brewery, a sports pub in Causeway Bay, said the government should adopt harsher measures on the illicit screening of sports games.

The pub attracts many football or rugby fans every night to watch matches broadcast by Cable TV and Now TV.

'The situation would be much improved as long as the pubs know they are taking a huge risk if they use unauthorised satellite feeds.'