Asian pay TV to lose US$2 billion to piracy: survey
October 26th, 2010

Piracy is expected to cost the Asian pay-TV industry more than US$2 billion this year, a survey released today said, a problem that could ultimately “kill” the region’s cable business. The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) said the cost of piracy could rise to US$2.1 billion this year, a 7.5 percent increase from last year’s $1.9 billion shortfall.

“This is a very disturbing problem and frankly it has the potential to kill the industry,” John Medeiros, CASBAA’s deputy chief executive, told a press briefing at an annual industry conference in Hong Kong. He criticised Asian governments for their “lax approach” in combating the growing problem, which usually entails illegal tampering with pay-TV hook-ups in homes and businesses to steal legitimate connections “We would like to see governments in Asia take a more proactive approach in educating consumers and restraining them from engaging in piracy,” he added.

Mr Medeiros said the figures do not include revenues lost to Internet piracy. He also warned about the spread of new piracy techniques including so-called “Dreamboxes”, which can decrypt cable and satellite TV signals. “It’s fair to say we’re concerned about the spread of the problem,” he added.

Governments across the region lose at least 262 million US dollars annually in total in taxes from lost industry revenue, the survey added. The worst-hit countries include Thailand, Pakistan and the Philippines, which are expected to lose $87 million, $63 million and $38 million this year respectively, the survey said. Mr Medeiros described China as a “piracy incubator” due to huge pay TV demand in a country where cable is heavily restricted.

About 363 million homes in Asia subscribe to pay TV services, ahead of North America where pay TV reaches 121 million homes, according to industry research released at the conference. But penetration rates in Asia lag other regions with cable TV reaching about 50 percent of homes compared with about 88 percent in North America and 62 percent in western Europe.

(Source: AFP)