Group presses on with litigation

HONG KONG — Undeterred by a surprise legal setback, pay TV industry group the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Assn. of Asia has vowed to press on with litigation against Telmarc Cable Corp., one of three Philippines cable network operators accused of piracy.

Levels of broadcast piracy in the Philippines are among the highest in the world and cost the legitimate TV industry some $80 million in 2006, according to Casbaa.

The org has accused Telmarc, Maguindanao Skycable CATV and Z-Energy CATV Network of copyright infringement by illegally retransmitting channels including HBO, CNN, National Geographic and ESPN Star Sports.

The appeals court has accepted the case against Maguindanao Skycable and Z-Energy looks set to settle out of court.

But legal prospects against Telmarc remain uncertain. Different courts have delivered different rulings and preliminary proceedings are proving protracted.

CASBAA members this week filed a “motion for reconsideration” at the court of appeal in Manila.

Last month the same court threw out evidence presented by the National Bureau of Investigation that had been gathered in raids in October 2005.

The appeals court judge ruled that the NBI “miserably failed to follow the strict guidelines for the issuance of a search warrant.”

“We believe the case filed by CASBAA (against Telmarc) is very strong and we are confident that the court of appeals will respond favorably,” Timothy Bautista, COO of Filipino pay TV operator Cable Boss said.

CASBAA says that if the petition is dismissed, members will move action to a higher court.

A CASBAA spokesman said: “The Philippines remains very difficult for intellectual property rights holders. There has been no progress in cable TV.”

According to data presented by CASBAA in October last year, the 887,000 illegal pay TV connections nearly equal the 910,000 legitimate subscriptions and are growing. Its data showed the Philippines to contain a mix of illegal distributors, illegal individual connections and to have a growing problem of subscriber under-declaration.

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