Published: 30/03/2007 12:00 AM (UAE)
Adverts warning satellite TV decoder users 'illegal'
By Sunil K. Vaidya, Bureau Chief
Muscat: Authorities here have ruled out taking action against residents who use Dish TV, a satellite television decoder, since the service is not regulated in Oman.
They have also termed criminal prosecution warnings against such users through advertisements in local media as intimidating and unauthorised.
Dish TV is a direct to home satellite television service offered by Zee group in India and people in Oman easily receive these signals.
Recently, some of the television service providers issued half page advertisements in local papers warning people that they could be prosecuted for installing Dish TV decoders.
"We have nothing to do with the advertisements threatening criminal prosecution for using Dish TV decoders," a top official at the Royal Oman Police Public Relations told Gulf News yesterday. Issues concerning the media, including advertisements, are handled by the ROP Public Relations.
"Residents in Oman are free to bring in satellite dishes from anywhere in the world provided they pay subscription for the same," Colonel Mohsin Bin Alawi Al Hafeedh, Member Responsible for Policy, International Relations, Legal Affairs and Communications and Image at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, told Gulf News yesterday.
"Satellite television services are not regulated in Oman at the moment," he clarified.
He said if anyone is breaching copyright, by using such decoders, then it has to be proved in a court of law in Oman. "Only if a court decides the breach of copyright law then action can be taken," he said.
"Whoever pays monthly subscription is using the service legally," he further elaborated.
An Information Ministry official termed the advertisements uncalled for and not conforming to regulations in the country. "No private party can threaten residents with criminal prosecution by issuing such intimidating ads that contain handcuffs etc," Sayyed Nameer Bin Salim Al Saeed, Director of Printing and Publishing, told Gulf News and added that the department would take up the issue with the local publications.
He suggested that the advertisement was more to scare the law-abiding Asian expatriate community in the country. "Such ads can scare Asians, who want to follow the law here," he said.
"What is the authenticity of these ads?" questioned Chetan Jani, a long-time Omani resident and Dish TV subscriber. "I pay my subscription regularly and the signals are available here in Oman, so why can't I use it?" he questioned.
Al Saeed was also of the view that watching Dish TV in Oman was not illegal. "As long as they pay subscription and it is not pirated they have the right to watch and pay fees anywhere in the world," he said.
Both police and information ministry officials ruled out any raids or action against people owning Dish TV in the country.
However, Real Media Zee Network Vice-President for Marketing and Corporate Communications told Gulf News over phone from Dubai that it was illegal to use Dish TV decoders in the Middle East.
"We are now trying to work with the local authorities to stop the use of these decoders in the Middle East as they are meant only for the Indian market," he said.
Still banned in Dubai
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