If you happen to use Dish TV or TataSky services in the UAE, authorities could be on the lookout for you. Rampant television piracy has pushed the UAE television broadcasters to resort to legal measures and authorities here have started clamping down on illegally imported set-top boxes.
Speaking with Khaleej Times, David Butorac, CEO of OSN said: “In many cases the consumer is not aware that the television services they are using could be illegal, even though they may be paying for it. By paying for an illegal service they are still committing an offence.”
Dish TV set-top boxes are hugely popular with Indian expats and a monthly subscription for the service costs less than Dh50. In comparison, a similar package in the UAE costs between Dh264 to Dh477 per month. Several small shops dealing in satellite and television services have already been raided by police authorities for promoting such set-top boxes.
“By supporting piracy, people are hurting the ability of major broadcasters to create jobs and skills. The anti-piracy coalition is a group of broadcasters and companies which target the illegal use of content. We have had great success in clamping down on channels that illegally broadcast movies without having the rights. We are also working towards combating the illegal free to air distribution of content which imposes broadcaster rights,” added Butorac.
Importing set-top boxes into the UAE is not allowed and anyone found with it could face action, in accordance with the UAE laws. However, the legal warning hasn’t stopped people from using television services provided by companies outside the UAE.
“If you take legitimate platforms in other markets like Dish TV and Tata Sky — they are encouraged to grow their business in the region. The distribution of these set-top boxes is being done in the UAE through organised crime. Dedicated crime groups make great profits by illegally distributing receivers and viewing cards,” added David.
Once an illegal viewing card is seized, authorities make an effort to block the viewing card by reaching out to the service provider.
“The number of Dish TV set-top boxes is significantly bigger than other television service providers. As part of the anti-piracy coalition, we have dedicated individuals in our organisation which track buildings and identify illegal television connections. When we identify the unique number on viewing cards that are used illegally, we seek the help of broadcasters to switch those cards off,” said David.
OSN has partnered with authorities to promote the fight against television piracy and it has also pushed forward with a media and advertising campaign to create awareness about the issue.
“We have identified a significantly large number of cards to platforms in South Asia and we are expecting these companies to cooperate with us. The clampdown on privacy requires the cooperation of a number of parties and we need the assistance of governments to ensure our rights are protected. There has to be vigilance at ports to ensure these boxes are not imported and we need assistance from economic and custom authorities.”
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