Showtime Mid-East: suffering endemic piracy
Chris Forrester

In an interview with the Gulf Daily News, a Bahrain newspaper, Marc-Antoine d'Halluin, President/CEO at the recently merged Showtime-Orbit pay-TV platform in the Middle East, said that his business was in a “fight for its survival” over endemic signal piracy.

The problem, according to d'Halluin, is piracy. He blamed the ‘Dreambox’ satellite receiver, which when combined with broadband or telephony dial-up internet access, can easily hack into Showtime broadcasts. Mr d'Halluin said that illegal satellite users outnumber legitimate subs by a 5 to 1 ratio in Bahrain. ‘Dreamboxes’ are widely available throughout the Middle East.

"There is no larger challenge for Orbit Showtime than to protect our business and to ensure that our product is not stolen via users of the Dreambox. I can tell you that in the Bahrain market alone we're probably losing in the region of around five times the size of our legitimate business,” he told the Gulf Daily News.

Mr d'Halluin added: “We're not talking about five or 10 per cent [piracy] here; no business can sustain those sorts of losses without reacting and having to fight for their own survival."

He said that the company was taking steps to fight this form of signal piracy, and that the local authorities were taking a serious approach to the problem.

The newspaper said that Mr d'Halluin dismissed suggestions that the high number of Dreambox users could be linked to Orbit Showtime overpricing a poor-quality service. “If people believe our prices are not competitive then lowering our prices will absolutely be considered, but we already have a variety of packages ranging from $20 (Bahraini Dinars 7.50) to $80 (BD30) per month; so we feel that everybody is catered for.”