Illegal cable boxes have been on the rise in recent times and is slowly becoming a mainstay in Asian and African countries. Singapore is one of the countries badly affected by this menace, owing to the rise in prices of the standard cable boxes and subscription.
Brief history of Singapores broadcast industry
Singapore has a rich historical and cultural background. Since the country’s’ pilot television broadcasting service commenced operation in 1963, Singapore television industry has continued to grow in leaps and bounds over the years, thrilling viewers with exciting programs and contents. Singapore’s’ Cable TV commenced operation in 1992, which has seen cable TV subscribers increase over the years. In other to consolidate on the giants strides attained so far, Singapore Cable TV merged with Starhub ( A telecommunication company based in Singapore) to create Starhub Cable Vision. Starhub Cable Tv became the flagship Cable Tv in Singapore which currently has over 150 international channels.
The rise of illegal cable boxes
In 2009, Starbox completely halted its broadcast of analogue signals due its compliance with the global digitization requirement and to also enhance its revenue earning potential. The activities of Starhub have since blossomed not until the emergence of illegal cable boxes in Singapore. Criminals import illegal set-top boxes that have been designed to decrypt premium cable services offered by Starhub for a token fee of $6.
This situation has not gone down well with the management of Starhub cable Tv because complaints were made because dwindling financial fortunes of the company. They have been losing subscribers to these illegal cable box dealers due to the infinitesimal price offered by them.
In June 2014, two men by the name Daniel Chen Wiangiang, 32, and Chow Foo Yong Chun, 27, (Both dealers of illegal Starhub top boxes) were charged to court by the management of Starhub cable TV after a successful sting operation. The men claimed they weren’t aware of the illegality surrounding their activities. Starhub has also tracked the activities of syndicates distributing fliers to members of the Singaporean public. These syndicates usually advise locals to patronize their cheap set top boxes designed to decrypt Starhub channels; however, they have since been arrested by the police.
A newer threat to Starhub services is around the corner and is buoyed by the rise of Android set top boxes. These set top boxes enable users to stream premium TV contents from the internet for free; thereby allowing them to bypass the cable TV services provided by Starhub.
To stem this ugly trend, Starhub and relevant regulatory agencies need to embark on a massive public enlightenment campaign so as to discourage the use of these illegal cable boxes. They should also make it clear to the public and dealers of these illegal cable boxes that it’s a criminal offence to acquire, use and operate these boxes. Hopefully, with the punishment clearly spelt out, the rise of these illegal set top boxes in Singapore will be curtailed.
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