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MultiChoice gets tough with ‘grey’ market pirates

South Africa has a near-neighbour in Zimbabwe where MultiChoice’s DStv South African satellite signals are easily received, and extremely popular. Indeed, there’s quite a local business in Zimbabwe of ‘informal’ DStv agents and installers happy to supply the illegal kit to view South African-targeted programming.

Now MultiChoice is getting tough, and has issued a strong warning to Zimbabweans – and the grey market importers of set-top boxes – supplying and watching illegal signals. MultiChoice’s Zimbabwe subsidiary says it will be visiting these ‘unregistered’ and “bogus” dealers who are promoting sales of South African kit.

A statement from MultiChoice said: “In terms of international copyright laws, MultiChoice South Africa can only provide its services to people resident in South Africa due to channels being authorised for reception in South Africa only. All operators providing DStv connections and support services in Zimbabwe are bound the law to ensure that DStv services in Zimbabwe are those that are legitimately provided for this country, and they may not connect Zimbabweans to DStv services in South Africa.”

However, there are complications. Local reports say that plenty of the alleged ‘illegal’ suppliers are in fact legitimate re-sellers who are simply making their business by giving consumers what they want. The other reason is simply cash. A DStv signal from South Africa can be paid for in South Africa’s weak Rand, while Zimbabwean subscribers must pay for DStv in US dollars.

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