The progress report presented at the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-piracy Coalition meeting, held in Amsterdam during IBC2018, indicates growing collaboration between governments, regulators, industry and advertisers.
A total of 242 channels have been taken off-air across MENA from 2014 to 2018, 47 so far in 2018 alone. Of the 47, 39 were Arabic channels and eight were Western. These figures were presented at the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-piracy Coalition meeting, held in Amsterdam on the sidelines of IBC2018.
Also read: The charter for the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-piracy Coalition
In April 2018, when the coalition met in Dubai, some of the television channels illegally broadcasting Western and Arabic content were named. They included Top Movies on Yahsat and HOGAR, Misr Elbalad and Josat on Eutelsat, all of which were broadcasting foreign content. In terms of illegal Arabic channels, those shut down recently include Egypt Life, 2M Comedy and 2M Film on Yahsat, as well as A Cinema, Wave Cinema, Egypt Life, Misr Al Balad, Beirut Cinema, Cinema B T-Film, T-Cinema, T-Taxi and T-Comedy on Eutelsat Moon.
With regard to digital content, the coalition had earlier revealed that there were 2.71bn downloads of pirated content in 2017 alone. In this context, action in terms of taking down websites dramatically increased between Q2 2017 and Q2 2018.
The figures for 2018 show that 122 websites streaming illegal MBC content were blocked in the UAE by telcos du and Etisalat. The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in Saudi Arabia similarly blocked 45 websites illegally featuring MBC-owned content. In addition, 205 websites illegally streaming OSN content were blocked in the UAE, KSA and Kuwait in Q2 2018.
There has been a 38% increase in the removal of Arabic URLs compared with Q2 2017. There was a whopping 84% rise in the removal of illegal advertisement (e-commerce) URLs, compared to the previous year. The critical role of advertisers in providing oxygen to pirated websites is recognised by the coalition’s charter. The charter states that advertisers should ensure their advertising appears on broadcast channels that respect the ownership of intellectual property.
A total of 552 advertisements were removed from four global e-commerce services. Wide-ranging action covering 200 websites saw 72,000 infringements removed for as much as enforcing the letter of the law. In October 2017, OSN and Dubai Customs launched a content protection virtual reality (VR) game at KidZania Dubai, to boost awareness of the threats of content theft. The 60-second game, Copycat Combat, is aimed at children between the ages of five and 12, to raise awareness of the importance of protecting IPR. The figures for 2018 indicate robust collaboration between coalition members and enforcement agencies across MENA. Enforcement action from January 1 to September 3, 2018, saw Saudi 124 Arabic titles. Similarly, 80,000 infringements were reported and removed for 278 Western titles.
Recognising that everyone trying to deliver quality content to the public is threatened by the inundation of ISD boxes and apps from commercial piracy syndicates, more than 20 ISDs were monitored, with eight disrupted; and at least 32 apps were monitored, with 17 disrupted by OSN teams.
Individual members of the coalition have demonstrated creativity in fighting piracy, recognising the social and cultural mindsets that need to be shifted as much as enforcing the letter of the law. In October 2017, OSN and Dubai Customs launched a content protection virtual reality (VR) game at KidZania Dubai, to boost awareness of the threats of content theft. The 60-second game, Copycat Combat, is aimed at children between the ages of five and 12, to raise awareness of the importance of protecting IPR.
The figures for 2018 indicate robust collaboration between coalition members and enforcement agencies across MENA. Enforcement action from January 1 to September 3, 2018, saw SaudiArabia topping the list with a total of 84 raids in which 102,471 STBs were confiscated. 54 raids were conducted by the General Commission for Audiovisual Media (GCAM) and 30 raids by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment (MOCI). The UAE, Egypt and Bahrain followed with 60, 27 and 23 raids respectively.
The raids, conducted by local authorities, yielded wildly varying results. The 60 raids in the UAE, for instance, saw just 186 STBs confiscated, whereas the 23 raids in Egypt yielded 5,019 STBs.
Across MENA, countrywide breakdown for online action showed the UAE, Kuwait and KSA blocking reported websites. Action from Kuwait was the most encouraging, with 79 out of 82 reported websites blocked. Close cooperation with local authorities in Oman, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt is ongoing.
With OSN online, the range of action taken highlights the role of multiple governments, regulatory authorities and telcos. For instance, the MK Pro IPTV box, popular with expatriates in the UAE, had streaming blocked by a leading UAE telco operator for a few days in August 2018.
Additionally, the Communication and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) in Kuwait has instructed telcos to block 77 pirated websites this year. Similarly, 29 websites have been reported to Jordan’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), with the assurance that they will be blocked in the coming days.
Apart from regulation, a workshop on fighting piracy which was hosted by Jordan’s National Library in July 2018 was attended by the customs and cyber crime units. As a result, a laboratory was set up in the National Library. A workshop and laboratory were also set up for the Saudi Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
A meeting was held with the head of the legislative committee of the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). When it was clarified that website blocking requires court orders, the coalition started to work with relevant officials to process the blocking requests.
The coalition was set up in 2014, bringing together major broadcast satellite providers (Eutelsat, Arabsat, Nilesat, Noorsat, Gulfsat, Viewsat, STN, Es’hailSat, JMC); content production, distribution and telecommunication companies (MBC, OSN, Rotana, ART, CNE, du, Etisalat, Mediagates, BeIN, My HD, Paramount, Rdatv, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal, Front Row, WWE, Sound and Light and Cinema Company, the International Advertising Association, Cedars Art, Eagle Films, Almassa Art Production, the Egyptian Chamber of Cinema Industry, Media Production City, Misr International Films, Spot 2000, the MPA); and anti-piracy firms (AAA, Muso, TMG) to fight the battle against piracy.
One of the key topics of discussion at the coalition was BeoutQ, which is currently considered the largest piracy operation in the region. beIN Media Group, a member of the coalition, alleged that another member was involved in the piracy and was severely impacting its revenues. With a key principle of the coalition being that members will support each other’s requests to take down pirate channels or services should there be sufficient proof, the coalition is reported to have agreed to draft a letter to the accused member with the aim of finding out more.
The next meeting will be hosted by NBC Studios in London in January 2019.
The charter for the MENA Broadcast Satellite Anti-piracy Coalition
- Broadcasters and distributors make reasonable endeavours to establish the ownership of intellectual property and pay the owners for the use of the intellectual property
- Advertisers ensure their advertising appears on broadcast channels that respect the ownership of intellectual property
- Satellite operators write contracts that set out clear obligations on their clients to respect property rights and to provide clear and unequivocal proof of intellectual property rights upon request
- Studios and distributors protect their intellectual property by helping to clearly identify ownership quickly and clearly when requested by coalition members battling pirates, by notifying relevant industry players of property rights abuse and pursuing legal action against pirates where possible.
- Subject to applicable laws, companies endeavour not to sell to, buy from or otherwise deal with companies or individuals identified by the coalition as committing wilful acts of piracy • We do not rely solely upon judgements in local courts in order to take action against piracy. As established and international companies, we take responsibility for who we do business with and how we do business. We look to established international norms, and the actions and behaviour of the established legitimate market players including studios, major distributors and broadcasters to help us identify acts of piracy and pirate operations. Members agree that all actions they undertake with respect to or in the furtherance of this Code of Conduct must be in accordance with the law.