Pehla pulls the Dreambox plug
Manama, February 21, 2011
Asian satellite broadcaster Pehla has pulled the plug on illegal broadcasts of its channels in Bahrain.
New encryption technology introduced on Saturday means Dreambox customers will no longer be able to see a number of channels, including live coverage of the Cricket World Cup.
Some of its other channels are still being broadcast through illegal pirate operators, but general manager of Pehla's Bahrain distributor Satlink, Om Ramchandani, said most were now encoded.
'While the Cricone channel broadcasting the cup matches is now only available on the new technology, most of the other channels have also moved to the new platform,' he said.
The move follows a similar decision by UAE broadcaster Orbit Showtime Network (OSN) to introduce new technology that makes it impossible for pirate operators to crack encrypted signals.
'All our subscribers in Bahrain have been given new set-top boxes that use the Viaccess technology,' said Ramchandani.
'The channels that are still available on the old technology will also be moved to the new platform within a few weeks.
'The network earlier used the Irdeto technology, which had been cracked by Dreambox operators.
'This will not happen with the (new) Viaccess technology.'
Pehla offers premium Indian and Pakistani entertainment to thousands of subscribers in Bahrain and other GCC countries, with packages starting from BD7.3 a month.
Ramchandani promised viewers would soon be offered more channels and better technology.
'We will offer an even more comprehensive bouquet of channels in the very near future,' he said.
Pirate satellite customers have been unable to watch OSN since December 19 and a pirate satellite provider admitted yesterday that their operation was under threat.
'Services have been very erratic over the last few weeks and most services are gone for good now,' he said.
'We have lost a lot of customers and have had hardly any new ones registering.
'We may still be able to crack this new technology, but it is not going to happen immediately.'
The Dreambox system relies on users linking their digital receiver to the Internet, which it uses to download codes to unscramble satellite signals.
If the system is prevented from accessing websites that provide the necessary codes, officials say the receiver will not be able to unscramble or display the channel.
This is not the first time a crackdown has been launched on illegal satellite broadcasters in Bahrain.
In October 2009 the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, in collaboration with the then Culture and Information Ministry, instructed the country's 17 Internet Service Providers to block Internet Protocol addresses of illegal operators.
However, pirate broadcasters were able to bypass the measures within two months.-TradeArabia News Service