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Star conducts anti-piracy drive against cable TV ops in 3 states

MUMBAI: Broadcaster Star India has clamped down on signal piracy against cable TV operators in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.

Star India has filed complaints against RST Digital (Karnataka), Ganesh Communication (AP) and Tanishq Communications (MP), leading to police raids, arrests and seizures of equipment.

The raids were conducted at the control rooms of the cable TV operators who were found indulging in illegal transmission/retransmission of Star India’s pay channels, Star alleged.

Over the last 12 months, Star India’s anti-piracy campaign has resulted in 100+ FIRs against pirating networks across the country, the company said.

The issue of piracy continues to haunt the industry even as the country is in the last leg of completing cable TV digitisation. Once fully implemented, digitisation is expected to curb piracy and protect the subscription revenue of the broadcasters.

Details of the raids conducted by Star India

Karnataka

Star India said it conducted discreet investigations at Kakarla town and identified that RST digital (located at No.64/8, Simaz Complex, Taluk Office, Karkala, Udupi District, Karnataka, India- 574104), which has a subscriber base of over 2,500 households, was indulging in piracy through DTH.

According to Star, the operator was carrying illegal signals of Star India channels Star Plus, Star Sports 1, Life Ok, Suvarna and Asianet, along with Sony, Zee and Colors channels.

RST Digital has monopoly in the Karkala region and so far not allowed any new network to set up a control room in this region. It is rumoured to have high connections with the ruling political party in chair.

Following the initial investigations, Star India officials filed an FIR (no. 135/2016 dated 25.05.2016) against RST Digital at Karkala police station, under section 379 of IPC r/w Sections 37, 51, 63, 65, 69 of the Copyright Act, resulting in a raid on the premises of the operator.

Star said that during the raid, the operator resisted police entry into the control room and arguments were exchanged. Piracy equipment including DTH STBs (of Sun Direct), umbrellas, amplifiers, modulators, Star boxes, etc. were seized. RST Digital’s owner Vijay Shetty has been in remand since 25 May 2016 and his bail application has been rejected, Star said in a statement.

Andhra Pradesh

Star said its investigations at Rayadurg town in Ananthapur District, AP (on the border of Bellary district, Karnataka) revealed that local cable operator Ganesh Communication, which has a subscriber base of over 10,000 households, was indulging in piracy through DTH. The operator was transmitting illegal signals carrying a total of 15 channels including Star India channels Star Plus, Suvarna and Maa TV, along with Sony, Zee and Gemini.

Following initial investigations, Star India officials filed an FIR against Ganesh Communication at the Rayadurg police station, under section 420 IPC and 63, 69 of the Copyright Act, which resulted in a raid on the premises of the operator. Piracy equipment including DTH STBs (of Sun Direct & Videocon), umbrellas, amplifiers, modulators, etc. were seized.

Star said that during the raid, the operator resisted the entry of police in the control room and arguments were exchanged. The SHO (Mahanandi) then reported the matter to the DSP and entered the control room forcefully, seized the equipment and arrested a technician.

The new owners of the network are well connected and have direct connection through MSO associations as well as ministers in AP government, Star said in a release.

Before Star India’s action, Sun Network’s anti-piracy team tried to conduct a raid on Ganesh Communication but failed.

Madhya Pradesh

Star India found that Tanishq Communications (located at Itarsi town in Hoshangabad District, MP) was indulging in the illegal transmission of channels such as Star Sports 3, Star Plus and Life Ok, through area transgression by SV Enterprises, Hoshangabad.

Tanishq Communications has a strong subscriber base of over 15,000 households in the state. The proprietor of Tanishq Communication Mahesh Chouksey is highly influential in the area and well-connected with the ruling political party, Star said.

Star India officials have been pursuing the matter with local police since August 2015 on 25 May 2016 and filed an FIR against Tanishq Communication under section Sections 63 and 65 of Copyright Act, 1957. The officials also met with the SP, IGP and DGP, which resulted in a raid on the premises of the operator. Piracy equipment including a node, a transmitter and a channel mixer were seized, and a technician was arrested.