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Bars busted in piracy clampdown

Hotel outlets in the UAE raided in attempts to curb illegal satellite TV broadcasts.

The UAE Ministry of Information and Culture has raided a number of bars for illegally airing satellite TV channels. Six ‘sports bars’ were raided and charged with illegally airing the Super Sports TV channel pirated from MultiChoice Africa. More outlets are to be targeted in a major clampdown.

During each raid Ministry officials verified that the channel was being shown in the outlet before summoning the proprietor to sign a statement acknowledging the illegal activity. The statement also pointed out that there would be further inspections and offenders would face prosecution with stiff penalties, including imprisonment.

A pay-TV industry official said the raids were made after MultiChoice made a request to the ministry through the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA).

“These raids leave no room to doubt that the UAE Government treats copyright infringement as a serious criminal activity,” says Scott Butler, Chief Executive Officer of the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA).

According to Butler the raids are part of the satellite television industry’s ongoing war against copyright infringement and he warned that the law applies equally to dealers, individual private viewers and public establishments.

“With copyright infringement precedents being set it is clear that the Ministry of Information, Dubai Police and the criminal courts will not hesitate to prosecute law-breakers and push for the most severe punishments in accordance with the local laws,” says Butler.

MultiChoice, based in Johannesburg, has over 20 channels which beams programmes using the PAS-4 satellite in C-band. While it has exclusive rights for broadcasting programmes in the African continent, its satellite 'footprint' also covers the entire GCC. How the raided sports bars obtained access to the Super Sports channel from Multi-Choice is still being investigated.

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