The always interesting competitive saga between SingTel Mio IPTV and StarHub Cable TV took on a new twist last month when SingTel urged StarHub to crack down on illegal TV set-top boxes.
SingTel, which said its mio TV service is pirate-proof, has urged StarHub to upgrade to a more secure system to prevent unauthorised access by non-subscribers. Vendors have been seen selling pirated set-top boxes openly and offering EPL content in several shopping centres.The devices are being sold for about S$200, up from around S$90 previously, and some sellers go as far as promoting them through flyers in mailboxes.
By Singaporean Law via the Broadcasting Act, buyers and/or sellers of illegal TV set-top box devices can be fined up to S$40,000 and jailed a maximum of three years if convicted. But this is a tough charge to file much less reach a guilty verdict, because the authorities will need a search warrant to enter someone’s home in order to obtain proof.
While it is not central to this story, it is forth-telling of the Pay TV climate in Singapore by reading the Facebook comments relating to this TodayOnline.com article.
Well, just two days ago, hundreds of illegal set-top boxes were seized by authorities in a police raid.
These STBs, found in a storage facility, were reported to be used to view StarHub TV channels, which is one of Singapore´s telecommunication and pay-TV provider. The raid was a result of months of investigation to track the syndicate which was distributing sales flyers for STBs that could unscramble StarHub TV content Selling, importing or manufacturing illegal STBs in Singapore. StarHub had destroyed 300 illegal boxes over two years back.
As a result if these developments, StarHub is in the process of moving its pay-TV customers into a new encryption standard that will once and for all prevent the unscrambling of channels by illegal boxes.
StarHub has had a loss of subscribers over the past couple years as it’s customer based dropped from over 550,000 to 532,000 in March of 2013.