As part of its ongoing efforts to protect the future of television and digital broadcasting, the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-Piracy Coalition has announced the closure of more pirate television channels that have been broadcasting content illegally during its annual meeting, held in Dubai this year. With a view to address all forms of piracy, including illegal internet content, this important meeting included representatives from broadcasting and satellite sectors in the region, as well as the from production, distribution and media content industries.
Furthermore, the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-Piracy Coalition also announced new members with the AAA (American Anti-Piracy Alliance); BeIN; Es'hailsat; Front Row; Muso; My HD and TMG, who will join forces in the fight against piracy.
During this year’s event, members of the coalition discussed new information and statistics, as well as focused on the development of plans, methodologies and a strategy for its next phase of work, which includes assessing the scale of piracy operations in both broadcast and digital, and highlighting and identifying more illegal channels and websites.
Since its last meeting, the coalition has been able to halt the broadcast of a number of television channels illegally broadcasting Western and Arabic content, including Top Movies on the satellite Yahsat, and HOGAR, Misr Elbalad and Josat on Eutelsat, all of which were broadcasting foreign content.
In terms of illegal Arabic channels, those that have been shut down recently include Egypt Life, 2M Comedy and 2M Film on the satellite Yahsat, as well as A Cinema, Wave Cinema, Egypt Life, Misr Al Balad, Beirut Cinema, Cinema B, T-Film, T-Cinema, T-Taxi and T-Comedy on Eutelsat Moon.
With regards to digital content, the coalition discussed the challenges of internet piracy, revealing that 2.71 billion downloads of pirated content has been made in the past year alone.
Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group, which became one of the first media groups to join forces with the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-Piracy Coalition, said: "Since its last meeting, the coalition has stopped 18 television channels broadcasting pirated Arabic content and four channels broadcasting Western content.
“Content piracy in the Middle East takes money away from the legitimate producers and broadcasters and transfers it to organized criminals. This is hugely destructive to our sector and a constraint on growth. We believe much more can be done to stop this blight with cooperation across all honest players and regulators.”
Martin Stewart, CEO of OSN, a founding member of the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-Piracy Coalition, said: “OSN is committed to providing customers with world-class entertainment, anytime, anywhere. Piracy, however, severely stifles the broadcast industry’s ability to innovate and grow.
“As we recognise World Intellectual Property Day, the Coalition has made great strides to limit piracy on free-to-air channels; yet there is still much more work that needs to be done across all forms of piracy, such as on the internet, and this strategy can only be effective if undertaken in close collaboration with partners and regulators across the region.”
On her part, AAA Vice Chairman Ola Khudair emphasized the importance of collaborating closer with stakeholders, coalition members and government authorities to resolve piracy concerns: “The UAE and Saudi governments have taken significant steps, and much more could be accomplished with closer cooperation, and public awareness. The UAE has blocked 125 sites, while the Saudi government has blocked 50 sites, for infringing content belonging to MBC Group.
“More steps can be taken by ministries and telecommunication regulators to highlight piracy, and turn consumers of piracy to legitimate content. Coalition members will continue to highlight the effects of piracy to consumers, in order to reduce the demand for piracy in the region.”
In a statement released by the Arab Media Corporation – which represents Sunnyland Film, and the Arab Radio and TV Network - it said: “AMC is very proud of the steps taken by the Coalition towards combating Arabic film piracy on illegitimate satellite channels in the MENA region so far. However, consistent anti-piracy work on all fronts needs to continue. For one, AMC is committed to filing cases before Egyptian courts to combat blatant film piracy, especially by satellite channels which were once legitimately operating channels, but who later found it was easier to steal content than to pay for it.
“We are happy with the success we've personally achieved on the litigation front against pirate channels, as we are now being awarded decent amounts in compensation and damages for content infringements by courts. But, this should not distract us from work that needs to be done against other forms of piracy such as online piracy and piracy via OTT platforms worldwide.”
On his part, Turki Al Shabana, CEO of the pan-Arab media conglomerate Rotana, emphasised the need for companies to unite in an effort to eradicate piracy, which is higher than ever thanks to the current digital era: “Rotana has long played a role as a regulator in the Arab region; it has always been at the forefront of fighting piracy and ensuring that regulation is implemented in the film industry – from the production of films to screening them in movie theatres, and then moving them on to OTT and VOD, before premiering on Rotana’s leading movie channel, Rotana Cinema.
He added: "To that effect, we will offer any support required by the coalition to help bring piracy to an end in our region."
The coalition was set up in 2014, bringing together major broadcast satellite providers, (Eutelsat, Arabsat, Nilesat, Noorsat, Gulfsat, Viewsat, STN, Es'hailSat and JMC) and content production, distribution companies and telecommunication (MBC, OSN, Rotana, ART, CNE, Du, Etisalat, Mediagates, BeIN, My HD, Paramount, Rdatv, Sony pictures, Warner bros, Universal, Front Row, WWE, Sound & light and cinema, International advertising association, Cedars art, Eagle films, Almassa art production, Egyptian Chamber of cinema industry, Media production city, Misr international films, Spot 2000, and the MPA), and Anti-piracy firms (AAA, Muso and TMG) to fight the battle of piracy.