Go-ahead to Block Sites Giving Access to
Pay TV Channels Filed on September 16, 2008

DUBAI — The Ministry of Economy (MoE) has given the go-ahead to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to track down the web sites that allow users to view satellite television channels without subscription and block them as part of the ministry’s campaign against pay channel piracy.

The phenomenal growth of Internet usage across the country has attracted several similar profiteering activities, which the MoE intends to control at the early stages. The latest MoE anti-piracy initiative, which commenced in the second week of June this year, parallel to the Euro 2008 football championship, immediately led to the identification and disruption of 10 Korean-based Internet addresses.

The action was the first of its kind in the UAE and the world against copyright violations.

“We received complaints that illegal operators were broadcasting unsubscribed Euro 2008 matches and other programmes over the Internet and promptly coordinated with the authorities (UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority) to conduct a raid. We were able to identify 10 foreign Internet links and immediately ordered the disruption of local Internet connections to these addresses,” said a source in the ministry.

“We are currently investigating similar cases and are arranging the proper protocols to ensure that the identification and disruption procedures are both swift and effective,” he said.

Mohammed Ahmed bin Abdulaziz Alshihhi, Under-secretary of the MoE, said in a Press release on Sunday: “Cases of pay TV piracy have been increasing in the UAE, with dishonest operators showing more confidence.

“The recent raids show the effectiveness of the government-coordinated operations in tracking down and preventing Internet-based piracy.

The ministry will continue its efforts to combat intellectual property rights

(IPR) violations and sustain its commitment to applying international standards and laws to protect the economy, investments, and consumers.”

Under the pay TV anti-piracy programme, the ministry, in its capacity as the appointed national authority for IPR enforcement, will recommend the disruption of violating Internet addresses identified via complaint letters submitted to the authorities concerned in the country. The officials concerned will immediately order Internet service providers to block access to these sites. In another move to fight piracy, the ministry recently issued orders to all national ports of entry and federal customs to confiscate illegally imported decoder boxes which are used to acquire satellite TV signals and watch broadcasts without subscription.

The government agency has also directed targeted raids against vendors of such illegal equipment.

Ola Khudair, Deputy CEO, Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAA), said: “Although private entities such as the AAA have been gaining ground in the regional fight against piracy, the most successful initiatives have been those involving close government cooperation. We hope that other Middle East countries will follow the UAE’s example as embodied by the MoE and implement their own unique and effective methods to stamp out piracy.”

The AAA has hired a special full-time IT team to track down Internet addresses that offer illegal TV viewing. The addresses are reported to the ministry, which in turn coordinates with the TRA on the final sanction against violators.

This and other AAA initiatives have proved to be effective in the UAE and are being replicated by the alliance in other Arab and GCC countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar.


Asma Ali Zain

Associated with KT for 15 years. Covers health issues, Pakistan community, human interest stories as well as general topics for daily news or features.

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