Viasat hit by copyright dispute

MTG’s Viasat is facing a major copyright dispute in Ukraine, where it operates the country’s leading DTH platform.

Kommersant reports that ARMA-Ukraine, a local collective rights management organisation, has accused Viasat of not having paid royalties of UAH2.9 million (€267,637) for broadcast clips and movies over the last four years.

It has also demanded that the National Council for Television and Radio Broadcasting to withdraw Viasat’s licence and for the Prosecutor General take legal action against the company.

According to Kommersant, Viasat’s legal representative Vyacheslav Yakubenko has responded by saying the company is willing to pay the copyright fees. However, “it is a complex issue, there are many difficulties, even with a certain amount. By law this has to be 2% of income received directly from the broadcast product (but) how to calculate the 2% is not clear to us”.

The problem apparently lies with ARMA-Ukraine asking for royalty payments for content on must-carry as well as pay channels.

There are around 30 of the former and Viasat has no contracts and does not pay fees to them.

Viasat launched its DTH platform Viasat Ukraine in 2008 and it is currently believed to have around 150,000 subscribers, or some 50% more than its nearest competitor Xtra TV.

Last month it was announced that the company plans to shortly launch a second, pre-pay platform known as UA.TV and targeting the lower end of the market.