Shanghai pirates' newest line is Cable TV

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 02 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 02 March, 2008, 12:00am


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Designer clothes, Hollywood DVDs ... and now Cable TV programmes.

Pirates in Shanghai are doing a roaring trade supplying the pay-TV network's services to Hongkongers who have moved to the city and are desperate for a fix of their favourite shows after watching state-run CCTV and Phoenix TV.

Viewers pay between 3,000 yuan and 5,000 yuan for equipment installation and a year of programmes. After that, charges range from 500 yuan to 3,000 yuan a year.

Almost all Cable TV channels are available, from news, soccer, movies and entertainment to National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC and CNN.

A Hong Kong businessman who identified himself as Mr Leung said Cable TV was a basic necessity for Hong Kong families in Shanghai. He relied on the service to stay informed about what was happening in the world, as censorship of overseas media was tight on the mainland.

The service is proving popular in pubs showing soccer matches.

There are at least a dozen providers of the service, with salespeople handing out fliers at residential complexes popular with Hong Kong families and foreigners.

Subscribers receive a satellite dish and set-top box.

Watching through the internet is another, cheaper, option.

A salesman surnamed Xu said: 'It still requires a set-top box, which we connect with your internet and television. The resolution is as good as watching a DVD.'

Mr Xu claimed his company's service was legitimate. 'This is not piracy. You do not have to change codes or passwords.'

Garmen Chan Ka-yiu, vice-president of external affairs at Cable TV owner i-Cable, said the pay-TV operator had raised its concerns with the mainland authorities.

Edmund Lo, senior manager at the Applied Science and Technology Research Institute, said it was practically impossible to receive signals from Cable TV in distant cities like Beijing and Shanghai.

He suspects subscribers in Hong Kong are illegally relaying the signals to the mainland.