Pay TV piracy keeps rising in Asia

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HONG KONG -- Pay TV piracy in Asia cost an estimated $1.54 billion over the past 12 months, according to a report published Wednesday by the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia in conjunction with Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Ltd.

The latest figures mark yet another increase -- up from $1.32 billion in 2006 and $1.1 billion in 2005.

"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, director of Standard Chartered's media and entertainment, creative industries group.

The pay TV industry also loses an estimated $213 million annually to government taxes, according to figures released by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The developing market of Pakistan was added to the report for the first time this year, tacking on an estimated $110 million in losses.

Excluding Pakistan, the rest of the Asian territories showed a 26% increase in lost revenue -- an estimated $300 million. These territories include Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and Macau.

"Nonetheless, the fact that legitimate paid subscriptions are seeing an average 10% growth is a positive sign of the vast potential for the Asia-Pacific pay TV industry," Beasley said.

The report indicated that pay TV signal theft together with unlicensed pay TV operators have made an impact on regional economies.

Although the overall losses are on the rise in the region as a whole, pay TV piracy in Hong Kong has decreased by 15%. CASBAA's activities in Hong Kong included successful legal actions against commercial distributors of unauthorized signals in public venues.

"The fall in the 'lost revenue' number is attributed to the reduced cost of a pay TV subscription in Hong Kong thanks to increased competition in the market," CASBAA CEO Simon Twiston Davies said.
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