Some viewers in Hungary are apparently able to watch pay-TV services for free.
That is the surprising finding of a detailed investigation published by and forwarded to me by the industry publication Media1.
It is based on a letter sent at the end of February by the president of the Association of Hungarian Electronic Broadcasters (MEME) to the Communications Interest Reconciliation Council (HÉT) alleging that some operators do not or do not adequately protect the TV signals they distribute. Indeed, these can supposedly be accessed by anyone with an internet subscription through a device called a mini node connected to a network.
The investigation goes on to name Digi and Magyar Telekom as the main operators involved in this matter, with the former allowing around 130, and latter almost 40, TV channels to be received in this way in some population centres. In a comments section, one reader also names UPC/Vodafone, where an internet subscription apparently gives access to basic TV channels.
Perhaps not surprisingly, both Digi and Magyar Telekom have strongly denied this is taking place, adding that they operate fully within the law and take the issue of content protection seriously. Meanwhile, the regulator NMHH has said it is not in its remit to monitor the observance of copyright and related rights and it cannot therefore initiate proceedings if they are infringed.
Significantly, the specifics of certain technologies could at least in part be to blame for this alleged signal theft. Digi, for instance, uses RF overlay on its FTTH networks and Telekom DVB-C on its HFC networks.
The main concern is that free reception of pay-TV channels can lead to serious distortion of the market, putting small operators, who are more closely monitored than larger players, at a competitive disadvantage. For Digi and Magyar Telekom, on the other hand, there could now be the real threat of legal action by broadcasters whose channels they have allegedly been distributing with unauthorised access.
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