A report June 6th in a UAE newspaper The National says that the cost of satellite-delivered pay-TV in the Gulf state was prohibitive and thus encouraging the sale of ‘pirate’ decoder boxes imported from India. It states that about one million such set-top boxes were exported each year from India.
The bottom line is that UAE residents, often expats from India and Pakistan, can buy a dish+box installation for less than 1000 Dirhams (about $270) and then ‘subscribe’ to an illegal internet service for about $50 a year which gave them access to “thousands” of normally pay-TV channels.
The newspaper quotes K H and T M, both from India, who said they brought decoders from their home country when they realised that satellite television channels in Dubai were too expensive for them. “I barely make enough money to feed myself, and I just simply cannot afford to pay Dh500 a month to watch television,” said K H, 32, who works at a shop in a Dubai suburb.
Piracy is rampant in the region. As well as pay-TV piracy, broadcasters have recently been taken off air for showing DVDs on air without any thought for copyright. Last year, David Butorac, CEO at OSN, said the industry was losing about $500 million a year through piracy and content theft.