Pay television bosses warn of new threat of satellite piracy

A cutting-edge new form of satellite TV piracy poses a “viable threat” to the region’s pay TV industry, according to Scott Butler at the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance.

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By  Tim Addington Published  March 19, 2006

A cutting-edge new form of satellite TV piracy poses a “viable threat” to the region’s pay TV industry, according to Scott Butler at the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance. His comments came after authorities in Dubai said two men have been jailed for three months and fined US$13,600 for illegally selling modified satellite decoder boxes, enabling users to access 1400 channels (including pornographic channels) without paying subscriber fees to broadcasters such as ART, Orbit and Showtime. The men, who are believed to be from the Far East, were selling the devices and installing them for around AED 2000 (US$540) each from a satellite dealership in the Deira area of the city. When police raided the shop, they seized 56 decoders, 1300 satellite smart cards and related paraphernalia. The operation, which was carried out in conjunction with Dubai Police, the Ministry of Information and Dubai Customs, uncovered the decoders that circumvent encryption systems used by pay TV operators. As well as being jailed, the trade licence for the shop was withdrawn and the men deported. Although the Levant is notorious for signal theft, it is the first time such encryption piracy has been uncovered in the Gulf and was branded a “worrying trend” by Butler, whose organisation represents the interests of pay TV providers, Hollywood movie studios and copyright holders. “It is the first time that we have uncovered this form of piracy. It is a very worrying trend, and poses a viable threat to the region’s pay TV industry,” Butler said. He praised the UAE authorities for taking action against all forms of piracy but criticised other countries for taking a more relaxed approach.

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