On July 6, CASBAA - the Asian Cable and Satellite lobbyist association - has come out publicly and rebuked those bars and clubs and other venues in Hong Kong that have been screening unlicensed broadcasts of the World Cup from Germany.
CASBAA says that such blatant breaches of copyright are a worrying issue and a significant hurdle for Hong Kong in its efforts to position itself as a genuine “World City”.
According to the Ming Pao Daily - a respective Chinese language newspaper in Hong Kong, the World Cup has boosted Hong Kong bar revenues by up to 50 per cent.
Independent estimates suggest that at least one-third of the cash has been generated by screening pirated TV programming from markets such as the Philippines and South Africa.
Marcel Fenez, Chairman of The Cable & Satellite Broadcasting Association of Asia says that when it comes to the basics of sports and entertainment intellectual property rights protection, the Hong Kong SAR still lags behind other media hubs such as Singapore, Sydney, Seoul and Tokyo.
According to The World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Ranking 2005-2006, Hong Kong dropped seven places to 28 out of the 117 economies measured in the study. A weakening in the protection of intellectual property rights was partially attributable to the decline in Hong Kong’s ranking.
Mr Fenez is calling for collaboration on all fronts between the government, industry, bar and club owners and the general public to protect intellectual property rights.
Under Hong Kong law, bars and clubs may only display pay-TV channels under an appropriate subscription from Hong Kong licensed pay-TV operators such as Hong Kong Cable TV, "now Television" and TVB Pay Vision.
CASBAA said that overseas pay-TV operators such as Dream of the Philippines, MultiChoice of South Africa and UBC True of Thailand are authorised to offer pay-TV subscriptions only in their respective jurisdictions and they cannot, and indeed "do not" offer subscriptions in Hong Kong.
The display of overseas pay-TV channels in Hong Kong by bars and club owners, using special decoders is illegal.
[On the general topic of piracy of satellite TV channels in Hong Kong, it is hardly surprising that with a large Filipino expatriate community - over 250,000, pirated cards are on the market. They are readily available from HK$50 (US$6.00). There is no TV service provider targeting Tagalog speakers in the HKSAR. Ed.]