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Chris Dziadul Reports: Piracy in CEE

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2019 has been another eventful year in the fight against piracy in Central and Eastern Europe.

Although most coverage in Broadband TV News has focused on developments in Russia, Ukraine and the Baltics Republics, we have also looked at other markets in region including the Czech Republic.

In Russia, the authorities stepped up their efforts by closing pirate sites and proposing new legislation designed to combat the illegal distribution of TV channels on the internet. In what was an eye-catching first, they even sentenced an offender to 18 months of forced labour for pirating content from the country’s leading pay-TV operator Tricolor.

Earlier this month we were able to report that internet piracy in Russia, though still a huge problem, has declined to its lowest level in five years. Aside from more effective legislation, this is due to the collapse of the three leading pirate CDNs, as well as a clampdown on advertising on pirated content.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine the fight against piracy continued to be led by the Clear Skies Initiative, which brings together the country’s four largest media groups. Great hopes were placed on the upcoming encryption of satellite channels by the groups, which besides providing a boost to the pay-TV market is expected to strike a blow against piracy.

As part of the fight against piracy, we also saw the DTH platform Xtra TV, which is backed by Media Group Ukraine (MGU), switch to a non-card system employing Verimatrix conditional access.

In Latvia, 2019 began with the enactment of a new law requiring ISPs to block access to TV broadcasts that violate intellectual property rights, while in Lithuania the regulator LRTK also undertook such actions during the year.

On the other hands, in the Czech Republic, the DTH and internet TV operator Digi CZ was forced to take strong action against pirates stealing highly lucrative sports content to which it holds the rights.

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