Cable and Satellite Programming Piracy Exceeds US$1.5 Billion in Asia

The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) and the Standard Chartered Bank of Hong Kong have issued a report showing 2007 piracy losses to Asian satellite and cable programming interests topped US$1.54 billion, up from the US$1.13 billion figure reported last year.

"The pay-TV piracy situation in most of the big markets in the region needs to be seriously addressed, not just by the industry but also by government," said Lee Beasley, head of media and entertainment at Standard Chartered Bank. "Nonetheless, the fact that legitimate paid subscriptions are seeing an average 10 percent growth is a positive sign of the vast potential for the Asia Pacific pay-TV industry."

According the survey conducted by CASBAA and Standard Chartered Bank, losses in Pakistan alone amount to US$110 million. It's estimated that there are some 4.6 million pirated cable hookups in that country, as compared with only 345,000 legitimate subscriptions.

In India, where there are 73 million pay-TV connections, it's reported that program service revenue siphoning hit US$945 million this year, up 44 percent from last year. According to CASBAA CEO Simon Twiston Davies, the piracy is draining operator revenue that should be going into construction of digital cable infrastructure in India.

"The systemic shortfall in analog revenues from local cable operators is a major part of the problem," said Davies.

The study did report that theft of cable and satellite service is down in Vietnam in the last year by US$28 million dollars.

"The improvement is almost exclusively thanks to the removal of pirated international channels from the line-up offered by Vietnamese operator VTC," said Beasley. "The government of Vietnam is clearly moving to fulfill its international trade commitments and listening to its own legitimate industry. This is great news, and we hope attention to this issue continues."