ART dumping Irdeto

Chris Forrester

Middle East pay-TV broadcaster ART is dropping Irdeto's conditional access system.

Rapid TV News understands that Arab Radio & Television is to phase out Irdeto's pay-TV smart card system. Instead, ART - "on the personal decision of the Chairman" - according to senior ART staff, will use France Telecom's Viaccess encryption system.

Senior ART insiders said they can no longer tolerate the growing piracy of their pay-TV signals throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Sheikh Salah Kamel, chairman of ART, is said to have made the decision, which follows on from many years of alleged piracy of their smart card-based CA systems. Our sources suggested that Showtime/Gulf DTH, which supplies mostly 'Western' pay-TV programming over the Middle East, will follow suit although this cannot be confirmed at this time.

The plan is for Viaccess-enabled boxes or CAM modules to be made available later this year, and well in time for next year's all-important World Cup soccer tournament, which ART holds certain rights to cover. Viaccess already secures ARTís ĎArab Digital Distributioní signals over Europe.