By Joy Sengupta, Anwar Ahmad and Adel Arafah
17 July 2008
DUBAI - Despite a blanket ban on subscription of Dish TV, a product of the India-based Zee TV, many shops in Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi are selling the service after allegedly smuggling the receivers into the country, Khaleej Times has learnt.
Officials of the Real Media-Zee Network yesterday said that they have launched an awareness campaign on their channel asking people to refrain from using the Dish TV services and informing them that it is illegal. Earlier, the Ministry of Economy had directed the port authorities across the UAE to confiscate TV decoders being smuggled into the country.
The ministry had also issued warnings to people involved in illegal import of receivers, which decodes pay TV channels in violation of the UAE copyright law.
Khaleej Times talked to some dealers who said that the Dish TV has been a craze among the people of Asian origin and is cheaper than e-vision, the cable TV service provider in the UAE.
Dealers said there are big agents in the market who import the decoders and the cards in thousands from India.
'We get it from the big dealers. The Dish TV consists of a receiver and viewing card. The service uses a single satellite which sends signals directly to the personal mini dish antenna of the subscriber. In India, one can get the receiver for anything between Rs. 4,000 (Dh365 approx) and Rs.5000 (Dh455 approx). One-year subscription costs Rs. 3,500 – Rs. 4,000 just for the card. The receiver is free with a year's subscription,' a dealer in Abu Dhabi said.
'Here, we sell the receiver for Dh550. The cost of the six-month validity viewing card is Dh150. The cost of the dish antenna with the LNB (the main switch attached with dish which receives signals from satellite) rests between Dh100 and Dh150. The technical service charge is Dh100. So, the total cost of installation is just Dh950. This is still cheap when compared to an e-vision connection,' he said.
'Most of the consignments enter from Ajman or Ras Al Khaimah ports. With Dubai having strict regulations, agents import it through other routes in the country. Mini dish antennas are easily available in places like the Naif Road and Bur Dubai in Dubai, and Rolla area in Sharjah,' said another dealer in Dubai.
A sales executive with e-vision said that they were suffering losses because of the Dish TV.
'People are inclined more towards the Dish TV as they have all the sports channels from around the world as well as movie channels at a cheaper rate. For example, an interested subscriber for e-vision has to make a payment of Dh250 (six-month validity) for the installation followed by monthly payment for the package they choose. Our package of E-Pehla Gold, which has the same number of channels like the Dish TV, comes for Dh223 every month. But people need to understand that they are using a service which is illegal in the country,' he said.
Altogether e-vision has around 13 different packages and also gives a platform to other satellite services like Orbit, Showtime, ADD, TFC etc.
Manoj Mathews, Vice President, Corporate Communications at Real Media-Zee Network, told Khaleej Times that they have a tie-up with e-vision for the campaign.
'The problem has been persisting for quite some time now. The content of Dish TV is just for India and is illegal outside the country. The receivers and cards of Dish TV are being smuggled into the country by dealers. We are trying to curb the practice,' he said. Those who were using the service already said that they would always vote for cheap options. 'I have been using Dish TV for almost a year now. It took me just Dh950 for installation. And I just need to pay Dh150 in order to renew the card in every six months. Earlier, I had an e-vision connection, where I needed to give Dh250 as installation changes and Dh153 every month (for six months) for the e-Pehla Silver package. So, the total amount stands at Dh1,168 for six months. Moreover, I had no idea that Dish TV was banned here,' said an Indian national who requested anonymity.
Hackers of encrypted satellite TV channels are liable under UAE federal law No (2) of 2006 for Prevention of Information Technology Crimes, Dr. Mohammed Mahmoud Al Kamali, Director of Institute for Judicial Studies and Training, Ministry of Justice, said. According to the law, any intentional act whereby a person unlawfully gains access to a website or information system by logging on to the website or system or breaking through a security measure carries imprisonment and a fine or either of the two.
He said the Ministry of Economy had issued warnings to persons involved in illicit import of decoders of satellite transmission and distributors/sellers of programmed sets for decoding pay TV channels without obtaining permission from the service rights owners. 'As part of its policy to fight piracy, the ministry has instructed all border checkpoints to confiscate any decoders being smuggled into the country.
Such operations, he explained, represent a flagrant violation of law for protection of intellectual property rights.
He added the GCC countries would approve measures to ban import of decoding devices.
He indicated that the National Media Council (NMC) has a unit responsible for protection of intellectual property rights, including satellite TV channels.
'The inspectors have been granted judicial powers by the Ministry of Justice to refer hackers of TV channels to Public Prosecution on the ground of breaching the law for protection of intellectual property rights and anti-IT crimes federal law,' he maintained.
Posted: 17 July 2008
Source: Khaleej Times Online