According to a recent Ernst & Young report, piracy costs India a whopping Rs 16,000 crore and 8.2 lakh direct jobs every year. Given these staggering figures, it has become very imperative to fight the menace. Protection against broadcast piracy is thus, not only necessary for broadcasters but also in the interest of the public at large.
The purpose of CAS is to check piracy, but it is defeated if pay channels can be watched free, as is apparently happening in various localities in Delhi. Nearly 3 lakh cable homes in South Delhi have been ‘seeded’ with set-top boxes. However, industry estimates that another 2.5 lakh homes receive pirated pay channels.
Piracy remains a major concern for stakeholders, broadcasters and multi-system operators (MSOs). Efforts made to implement CAS effectively have had to take a backseat due to piracy, besides taking away legitimate revenues of broadcasters, MSOs and Government revenues like Service Tax, Entertainment Tax, etc.
Two FIRs were registered on March 30, 2008, on behalf of Star Den Media Services against two cable operators, Geetank Cable Network and Rakesh Cable Network, for indulging in piracy in CAS areas in Delhi, following which two people were arrested. Ground investigations revealed that set-top boxes of SitiCable and Hathway were used. Bill books / receipts ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 300 being charged were also seized.
Similar raids were conducted on November 15, 2007, in Gurgaon. However, the menace of piracy is increasing as local cable operators (LCOs) who are pirating pay channels are increasingly becoming bolder in the absence of any Government action, which is leading to a chain reaction as other LCOs in nearby regions also begin pirating signals.
Apart from these raids not much has been done so far to curb this menace, leading to chaotic conditions on ground. Despite consciously remaining pay in CAS markets, broadcasters’ signals continue to run in free mode, which is clearly a mockery of CAS, which was implemented following a High Court order.