Pay-TV piracy cost $1.5b in Asia, says survey

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.

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 $300 million, 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,' said Twiston Davies.

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

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

In Hong Kong, the revenue loss has decreased by 15% to $27.4 million, despite the number of hacked connections remained unchanged.

Davies said the fall in revenue loss is due to the reduced cost of pay-TV subscriptions resulting from increased competition in the market.