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Euros fight TV piracy

Europe’s leading pay television networks have taken the first step toward creating a lobby designed to combat pay-TV piracy.

Pay TV webs BSkyB, Canal Plus, FilmNet, Premiere and Telepiu have agreed to join the newly formed Antipiracy Contact Group following talks held in late February.

The new organization also will bring together encryption systems providers France Telecom (Eurocrypt), Irdeto (Cable Crypt) and News Datacom (Videocrypt). In addition, the Motion Picture Export Assn. of America, the European Cable Communications Assn. and the Assn. of Commercial Television in Europe are part of the group.

Stressing that it is still early in the game, a spokesman for the new combo explained, “The idea is to bring companies together to exchange information which will help combat pay TV piracy.”

While hard data is not yet available, pay TV webs and encryption systems providers know that pirated decoders are denying them potential subscription coin.

A second problem is that satellite footprints allow programs to be captured in territories where rights have not been cleared. Armed with an Astra dish and a friend in the U.K. who is willing to take out a BSkyB subscription, a TV viewer in Paris can pick up BSkyB.

“There has been a rights problem with people getting smart cards from the U.K. and watching BSkyB in other territories. The network wants to stop this and obviously the MPEAA wants to have rights respected,” said the group spokesman.

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