Broadcaster retains old frequency despite sale of sophisticated illegal decoders that allow viewers to tune in free of charge The pirates of Shamshuipo's Apliu Street have defeated Cable TV by introducing a more sophisticated TV decoder in a new round of the code-cracking war. Cable TV seems to have temporarily given up the fight, as it has not changed its broadcasting frequency since New Year's Day, according to a TV decoder user. A new calculator-like coding device with buttons marked from 0 to 9 and A to F is available at some electronics shops in Apliu Street for television viewers who want to avoid paying the monthly Cable TV subscription fee of $298. The coding device and a smart card can be purchased for $480. Buyers then call a hotline or log onto a website to find out the latest broadcasting signal, which Cable TV has been changing daily until recently to block viewing by non-subscribers. Each smart card can handle 100 code changes. Users can then press the buttons on the device to load the latest code into the smart card which, when inserted into the television's decoder box, allows the viewer to watch Cable TV's transmissions without paying. The older model of TV decoder - priced between $885 and $1,200, depending on whether the customer wanted to pay extra for a home installation service - also contained a smart card that hacked into the signals. But customers had to take the card back to Apliu Street and pay $100 for a new one whenever Cable TV changed its frequencies. With the new system, users update the code themselves at home. Cable TV spokesman Danny Lo Tak-hang said the company's engineering department was aware of the problem and would monitor the situation closely. 'We are still changing the code to fight against illegal operators. Our department is working on some new counter-measures, but I do not want to reveal too much about our new tactic,' he said. 'It has always been a cat-and-mouse game. Our main tactic is to create more trouble for illicit users by changing the broadcast signal many times a day, and they will finally give up after being interrupted when watching television.' The company would also implement more sophisticated technology to fight the illegal operators. 'We also spend a lot of resources on tracking illicit users and sometimes we deliberately interrupt the transmission to lure those illegal operators to call us so that we can track them down,' Mr Lo said. The code-cracking battle between Cable TV and unauthorised operators began last June when racketeers enjoyed profits from huge demand for illegal Cable TV decoders in the lead-up to soccer's Euro 2004 finals. Illegal operators even introduced a new 'invincible' smart card priced at $150, just two days after Cable TV changed its transmission code 10 minutes before the first match of the competition. Cable TV completed digitalisation of the transmission system last year, using a sophisticated encryption arrangement to protect programmes from being tapped. The number of Cable TV subscribers rose to 680,000 households after the introduction of the system. Police also mounted a crackdown in Shamshuipo in May last year.