Hong Kong – Hong Kong Customs’ successful raids on suppliers of a pirate TV box service should serve as a warning to all potential consumers of unauthorised TV services, said Asia’s pay-TV association, CASBAA. “Buying a dodgy TV box is a bad deal for consumers,” said CASBAA’s Chief Policy Officer John Medeiros. “The content is being illegally supplied and the signal is subject to interruption at any time.”

Frequently, artful sales approaches imply to consumers that the services on the box could be legal, and that they will last indefinitely. Consumers may even be told they are buying a year-long subscription. In fact, said CASBAA, there is no guarantee of quality or continuity for programmes supplied via pirate media boxes.“Apart from the usual signal quality uncertainties of internet transmission, the content stream can be terminated suddenly,” said CASBAA CEO Christopher Slaughter, “whether by law enforcement action – as in the recent Hong Kong case – or through the upstream intervention of content owners.”

In the Hong Kong case, Customs authorities raided four residential premises, a warehouse and a commercial electronics stall, arresting nine people who are suspected to have conspired with others to operate an illegal “circumvention business” to access pay-TV content illegally and distribute it around the world via the internet, for payment.