Gulf telcos must join battle over illegal downloads

Telcos making money from broadband services that are used for illegal downloands, Virgin boss claims

Tags: Intellectual PropertyVirgin Megastore
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Gulf telcos must join battle over illegal downloads Retailers and telcos need to work more closely together to control illegal downloads. (ITP Images)
By  Shane McGinley Published  September 23, 2011

Gulf telcos must work harder to police their networks as illegal film and music downloads threaten the future of the digital industry, the head of Virgin Megastores Middle East said.

Nisreen Shocair said curbs on copyright criminals in the Middle East lagged the rest of the world, a situation media companies claim costs them billions of dollars in lost revenues.

"Telcos keep selling bandwidth and we all know what bandwidth means, it means faster downloads and most of it, I imagine is illegal downloads," Shocair, the regional president of the retail giant, told Arabian Business. "We need to work closely with the telcos to solve that."

Virgin Megastore Middle East plans to open an online digital download platform to allow users to purchase music, movies and other entertainment products.

"I don't think anyone wants to see the music industry go away, or video, or gaming so [telecoms operators] are willing to work with us I am sure," she said.

"There was some report that said whatever revenue the music industry lost in physical sales, the telcos generated in bandwidth sales - and we see telcos selling faster and faster bandwidth."

Stores across Europe and the US have seen a rapid decline in CD sales, hit by piracy and the rise in illegal downloads. Virgin rival HMV closed 60 stores across the UK last year.

But Shorcair said a move to expand the selection of CDs in retail outlets across the Middle East had proved a surprise success.  

"We expanded [the CD section] and business went up 15%. Obviously there is a demand still there," said Shocair."[Retail sales] are back up against last year... We are up 30% in the UAE. It is very simple, with the political situation in Egypt everyone came here and that made sure we had a fantastic summer. It was wild."

Virgin Megastores this month opened a 2,400 sq m store in Dubai Mall, the city's largest shopping centre, and is looking to Abu Dhabi, Egypt and Qatar for further growth, Shocair said,

In Egypt, the brand will open a second store in December and is in talks for two further developments.

2641 days ago

What he is saying are contradicting everywhere. He saying loosing business due to higher bandwidth and thus more illegal downloads and same time he is surprised due to the sale increase in summer. What he is trying to tell us. He don't know?. In some point he was trying to relate less sale with more bandwidth and same time he is going to set up on line store. We have this options from other people and we have more offers like on line cinema and gaming which we need more bandwidth. If he want to blame for any thing for close down the shops should be the music it's self. How many music albums released last year which make feel us to own one. may be 1%. Rest we are happy to here through hell of radio stations on line and off line including virgin. you got the point?

2641 days ago
Sathish Shenoy

In this day and age, the idea of buying physical media such as CD baffles me. Internet Radio and Paid/Free Music Services have made physical media redundant. I truly hope that paid music services such as Rhapsody, Pandora, Napster, Spotify become available to people in the region. Virgin should focus on online store!

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