Are pay TV pirates on the rampage in Asia?

Bruce Einhorn

Free cable. For some, those are magic words. But how many people really try to get cable TV for free? In the U.S., most Americans recognize free cable for what it really is: theft. But if you believe what the pay-TV industry in Asia now argues, that’s not the case in this part of the world. According to the Cable and Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (aka CASBAA), around the Pacific Rim there’s one thing that seems to unite TV viewers: The idea that pirated pay-TV is okay. CASBAA is having its annual meeting in Hong Kong this week, and the industry group says that the news is grim. According to CASBAA, pay-TV piracy is a billion-dollar industry in Asia, with the cost to operators at $1.13 billion in 2006, a 6.6% increase over last year. Needless to say, the folks at CASBAA are very unhappy. “For four consecutive years the cost of pay-TV piracy has risen,” CASBAA’s press release says, “and in 2006 the number of illegal subscriptions across Asia Pacific is estimated to have increased by 20% in 2006 to 5.2 million connections.”

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