Asian TV Piracy Cost: $1.5 Billion

A new study says that cable and satellite pay TV operators in Asia will lose $1.54 billion this year from piracy, while $213 million is being lost in unpaid taxes

Cable and satellite pay TV operators in Asia will lose an estimated $1.54 billion this year from piracy, according to a new survey released on Wednesday.ý

The estimated loss also means $213 million is being lost in unpaid tax revenues across the region this year, said the study, which was conducted by the Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia (CASBAA) and Standard Chartered Bank.

The survey covers Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Macau and Pakistan - which is included in this year's survey for the first time. Excluding Pakistan, the regional figure stands at $1.43 billion, up $300million, or 26% higher in lost revenues compared to 2006.

CASBAA CEO Simon Twiston Davies attributed a large part of the revenue leakage to the strength of the Indian rupee, which has gained 20% against the US dollar.

He said the India pay-TV market was the most distorted in Asia thanks to "what can only be characterized as structurally-based revenue leakage."

According to the survey, India alone lost $985 million, an increase of 43% over 2006.

Twiston Davies said the Indian market suffered from heavy-handed government regulation that in turn had created a lack of investment in infrastructure and digital roll-outs.

With 1.32 million unauthorized connections, Thai pay TV operators lost about $180 million, the second largest dollar loss in the region.

Twiston Davies noted that despite a slight improvement in the approach to intellectual property rights by some cable operators in the Thai provinces, there has been a growth of illegal Internet-based card-sharing for DTH services.

In Hong Kong, the revenue loss has decreased by 15% to $27.4 million, despite the number of hacked connections remained unchanged. Twiston Davies said the fall in revenue loss is due to the reduced cost of pay-TV subscriptions resulting from increased competition in the market.

Asia recorded an increase of 10% in legitimate paid subscriptions, according to Lee Beasley, head of media and entertainment of Standard Chartered Bank.

He said revenue loss in Vietnam fell to $10 million from $38 million in 2006 thanks to the removal of pirate international channels by local operator VTC.

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