Asian pay TV body CASBAA has commended a major crackdown on illegal network operators in Thailand and Malaysia.
A police initiative has seen around 80,000 consumers lose access to services transmitting illegal channel services from the two territories.
A number of arrests connected to illicit streaming devices (ISDs) during and following the police actions.
CASBAA CEO Christopher Slaughter (pictured) said Asia’s TV industry, from producers to pay TV operators such as Astro and PCCW were determined to keep up enforcement actions against ISD networks.
He also warned consumers against taking packages from questionable sources. “It’s important for consumers to understand that if a bouquet of TV programming offered on a box seems ‘too good to be true’, then it probably is not legitimate,” he said. “Money invested in an ISD is at risk of loss at any time.”
The Thai raids resulted in around 50,000 consumers in Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Indonesia and other territories lost the pre-paid ‘Expat.tv’ service, which offers various international channels via the internet.
Two British nationals and a Thai citizen have been arrested, with a “considerable amount” of equipment seized.
In Malaysia, police estimated that 30,000 consumers were receiving retransmitted Astro TV channels from a syndicate. Six men were arrested in raids in Kuala Lumpur and Johor.
CASBAA’s Slaughter also claimed consumers were risking theft of personal data, credit card fraud and even ransom by using ISDs, pointing to research from the UK.
“It’s only a matter of time before this problem hits consumers in Asia, too,” he said. “Legitimate, licensed TV services are a far more reliable and more secure way to obtain programming.”