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December 29, 2010

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Illegal satellite TV ... via broadband

SHANGHAI has cracked down on three illegal satellite TV companies that sent signals via broadband to clients' homes.

This appears to be a new way of providing illegal satellite services in Shanghai, a senior official of the city's radio, film and television watchdog said yesterday.

The companies linked servers to satellite receivers and provided the service via the Internet to more than 10,000 families across China, said Zhang Wei, an official with the Shanghai Administration of Culture, Radio, Film and TV.

Their clients only needed broadband access, rather than having to install satellite dishes outside apartments, which are easier for law enforcement officers to detect, he said.

Zhang advised people not to use such services, because, as well as being illegal, most are unreliable.

In China, only certain groups can apply to use foreign satellite TV services. These include education, scientific research, journalism and finance institutions that need to watch foreign TV; hotels receiving foreigners; and the communities with many foreign residents.

All other uses of the service are illegal, according to a rule issued by the country's State Council or the Cabinet.

Yet despite the fact that illegal users can be fined up to 30,000 yuan (US$4,528), the black market in Shanghai is rampant. An insider told Oriental Morning Post that the city has more than 300,000 illegal satellite dishes.

One illegal operator said people could install a device for around 1,000 yuan with no subsequent fees.

In comparison, the Yanlord Town in Pudong, an international community, said the annual fee charged by the state-owned China International Television Corp - the sole legal satellite TV operator in China - is more than 15,000 yuan for each user.

"But it is probable that the signal of the illegal satellite TV services will be suddenly lost as a result of the crackdown," Zhang said.

The official also reminded parents to be aware that illegal satellite TV schedules could include foreign adult programs, which their children might inadvertently see.

An official with the law enforcement team in Pudong surnamed Shen said it was very difficult to control personal users, as most installed the dishes inside their apartments.

The team received tip-offs via the hotline 12318 but only managed to force around 10 local users to dismantle their illegal satellite dishes so far this year.

An official with the management company of a local international community said they would not ask users to remove illegal satellite TV, as long as dishes were installed inside apartments.

"It is in the interests of our householders," he said.


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