Colombia's unregulated communal aerials drive pay-TV piracy

DetailsJuan Fernandez Gonzalez | 05 February 2015

While several companies and associations have been highlighting the problem of unregulated pay-TV signals transmitting via communal aerials, Business Bureau's latest report has quantified the problem in Colombia, a market with eight million subs.

According to the research company, out of the 674 community aerials audited in Colombia from August to December 2014, 326 were illegally receiving and broadcasting pay-TV signals. By law, a community is allowed to have up to 6,000 members.

"The expansion and popularity of communal aerials has always been a well known secret in Colombia," explained Horacio Gennari, president and founder of Business Bureau. "We don't want to be subjects of controversy, but deliver the industry and the telecom authorities a detailed report of how many aerials there are and how they work."

From the 674 registered aerials, only 507 are actually active and more than half of these are illegally receiving the signals of seven or more premium networks, which are then distributed to the community.

"The communal aerials were born in concrete political, social and economic circumstances, but, through the years, the practice has been changing and many of these aerials are managed in the same way as a cable operator, even charging similar fees to deliver TV signals to the home," added Gennari.

According to the report, the signals with highest presence in the communal aerials through the country are Discovery Channel and TNT.

Colombia is one of the largest pay-TV markets in Latin America with over 60% penetration. When it comes to piracy, the country is below the regional average, but still Business Bureau calculates a 15% piracy rate and 11% under-reporting in the country.