Sri Lanka Tackles Cable And Satellite TV Pirates

Around 300,000 Sri Lankans use illegal direct-to-home (DTH) devices to view Indian and other foreign TV channels, according to a survey by the Ministry of Mass Media and Information.

A large black market supports over 500 pirate operators in the satellite and cable TV sector, Ministry Secretary Dr Charitha Herath told Sri Lanka's Business Times.

A notice from the Ministry has appeared in newspapers warning unauthorised satellite or/and cable TV stations, vendors, distributors, and users of illegal DTH devices such as dish antennas and set-top boxes, reports the South Asian country's Sunday Times.

"At many places, illegal cable operators offer connections at cheaper rates as they do not pay a licence fee," Herath told the newspaper.

The monthly payment ranges from LKR100 to LKR300 compared to LKR500 to more than LKR2,000 a month paid by legitimate subscribers.

Only two cable TV stations and about four satellite TV stations have the legal right to operate in Sri Lanka, according to Herath.

"If we find that any of these stations have breached their agreements and maintained subcontracts with some other companies, their permits will be cancelled," he added.

Local police and the CID have reportedly conducted up to 100 raids on suspect operations in recent months, with some found to be illegally downlinking TV channels.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRC) is also to start registering and regulating all broadcast satellite services to better monitor equipment, vendors and providers.


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