Pay TV piracy costs up 6% in Asia Pacific

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HONG KONG -- Pay TV piracy's estimated costs in the Asia Pacific region were up 6% this year, to $1.13 billion from $1.06 billion in 2005, according to a report released Tuesday in Hong Kong as the four-day Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (Casbaa) confab opened.

Published in conjunction with Hong Kong's Standard Chartered Bank, the study, titled the Casbaa Pay TV Piracy Report 2006, said some of the worst offenders were in India, Thailand, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

The total number of illegal connections across the Asia Pacific region soared by 20% this year to 5.2 million, the report said.

In India, pay TV net revenue losses reached $685 million. This included rampant underreporting by cable operators controlling the "last mile" into households, a gray market estimated to have cost the industry $667 million in 2006. India's total pay TV market is worth an estimated $2.4 billion.

The second-largest dollar loss from piracy was in Thailand, where 1.27 million unauthorized connections added $160 million to the region's pay TV piracy costs this year.

Although perhaps not significant in dollar terms, Vietnam has the worst ratio of piracy in the region, with one legal pay TV subscriber for every 15 illegal connections. The study said there were 90,000 authorized subscribers in Vietnam compared with 1.37 million households receiving unauthorized signals.

The Philippines continues to be a piracy black spot, with the number of illegal pay TV subscribers up to 887,000. The estimated net piracy cost because of illegal distributors rose by 24% this year to $80 million.

The region's sole good news emanated from Singapore, where pay TV piracy costs dropped 15.8%. The report attributed this to the ongoing digitization of the country's cable network as well as strong copyright enforcement by authorities.

Markets covered in this year's report were Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and, for the first time, Australia and the former Portuguese colony of Macau. Mainland China was not included. The report said there was no significant piracy of broadcast signals reported in Japan or South Korea.
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