Court gives Premiere victory over illegal viewing

Premiere has won a major victory in its fight to stamp out illegal viewing of the German pay-TV platform. A Hamburg court has issued an injunction on behalf of the operator against Zehnder, an importer of the so-called “patchable receivers”, under penalty of a €250,000 fine or a six-month prison sentence.

Zehnder must also hand over its remaining supplies of the receivers to the courts and provide full details of its suppliers. The patchable receivers have been a thorn in the side of Premiere since last Christmas when the devices first arrived from Asia. The receiver’s firmware contains an emulator that creates the impression that a smart card is present. Combined with available software it is then possible to view Premiere’s pay-TV package without subscription.

Hans Seger, Chief Programming and Technology Officer at Premiere said illegal viewing of Premiere was not a trivial offence: “The decision of the Hamburg District Court marks a partial victory for us in our fight against the organized criminal theft of rights. We will continue our efforts and take all legal steps against these criminal actions. We will not just take advantage of all the measures available under criminal law, but in addition we will also call to account all those who have tried to enrich themselves at other people’s expense with significant damage claims. In the interests of our honest subscribers we will also take legal action against the buyers of these receivers.”

The arrival on the German market of the patchable receivers led to a major cost cutting exercise. Most recently Premiere has announced plans to switch conditional access systems to the NDS VideoGuard, though Nagra will also be upgrading the current CA system, which will run in simulcrypt.