Philippine cable TV losing $140 mln yearly through illegal connections

14:35, August 30, 2010      

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Philippine cable operators intend to make their sector profitable again by going digital and gaining support from legislators to criminals cable theft, after losing 6. 3 billion pesos (140 million U.S. dollars) to illegal cable television (CATV) connections annually, according to local media Monday.

Already, Sky Cable is converting 80 percent of its half a million subscribers from analog to digital by year-end. The company will spend 200 million pesos (4.4 million U.S. dollars) in 2010 for cable digitization.

Signal theft is so rampant that the Philippine Cable TV Association or PCTA estimates that every legitimate cable TV line has an illegal connection because of"colorum"or illegally tapped lines, which adversely affect the signal fed into a subscriber's home.

PCTA Chairman Jose Lobregat cites that "there is a one-on-one ratio between a paying cable subscriber and an illegal connect."

In its efforts to curb rampant signal theft, the PCTA believed that digitization is the initial step in addressing the illegal connection problem.

"Digitization would allow the providers to carry more channels and more value added services,"he stressed.

"This would allow the provider to recover quickly the cost of their investment which they can spend on improving the service such as going digital and adding more content and value added services,"the Chairman noted.

"It would also improve the service efficiency of the cable operator, as the current analog boxes in use today are almost obsolete and more difficult to maintain.

In addition, the PCTA expects Congress will pass a bill making it a criminal act to steal cables by the end of year or the start of 2011. The proposed bill will also allow them to recover losses from subscriber damage to equipment arising from cable theft.



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