Asia cable group keeping tabs on bars


HONG KONG -- The Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia will mail 300 "letters of warning and awareness" next week to sports bars and other venues in Hong Kong, warning them they could face prosecution for illegal pay TV subscriptions to major sporting events, the association's CEO Simon Twiston Davies said in an interview.

The action comes during a busy period for these venues, with the English Premier League soccer and Rugby World Cup seasons getting under way. CASBAA also will place ads in several Chinese- and English-language newspapers in Hong Kong.

The move follows recent out-of-court settlements between world soccer governing body FIFA and pay TV operator Hong Kong Cable Television Ltd. reached with three bars in Hong Kong's Wan Chai district this month (HR 8/16). Cases against two other bars in the same area have yet to be settled.

"Sports bars are the cutting edge of the pay TV market, and provide a great way to demonstrate the value of pay TV," Twiston Davies said. He added that bringing awareness to these bars was as important a part of CASBAA's job as physical enforcement of the laws and lobbying for legislative changes.

CASBAA also retained a private investigation firm, which they have used in the past to gather evidence for legal actions against pay TV offenders.