Pirates find more ways to lift coin

Illegal activity costs industry millions

SINGAPORE — Figures released by pay TV industry body the Cable & Satellite Broadcasters Assn. of Asia (Casbaa) show that pirates are finding more ways to siphon off revenue across the region.

Signal piracy in Hong Kong cost the industry $40 million in 2002, according to Casbaa. Its figures also showed that:

  • The 760,000 illegal subscribers in Thailand are costing the industry $19 million per month.

  • Masking advertising is cutting revenues by hundreds of thousands of dollars in Taiwan.

  • Massive under-reporting of subscribers keeps $600 million from India’s channels.

  • In the Philippines, there are 1 million people watching for every 600,000 declared to the channels.

It’s a persistent problem, and one that CASBAA expects to be reflected in an independent report commissioned jointly with investment bank Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia.

“This is the first study of its kind,” says Casbaa CEO Simon Twiston Davies, “and is an indication of just how seriously we are taking piracy in its myriad forms.”

Casbaa defines piracy as “any form of revenue leakage from any point in the value chain,” and the new report, expected in August, follows legal action in Hong Kong.

With five cable and satellite channels having taken successful civil action against those trading in illegal set-top decoder boxes, Twiston Davies says Casbaa’s antipiracy action is now the body’s first priority.

“While the problems include lack of legislation, lack of political will to enforce legislation and a reluctance to invest in the technology necessary to curb piracy, our biggest single obstacle is public awareness,” he says. “All our member channels are supporting a series of public service announcements that will air across the region from August.”

Piracy will be one of the major topics at this year’s Casbaa conference, Oct. 27-31 in Hong Kong.