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Buying illegal satellite equipment to watch news back home treated as criminal

By Khalid Magram     Sep 12, 2008 in Politics
A number of Toronto residents who own modified free-to-air (FTA) receivers point their satellite dish at satellites and within minutes, they are watching Bell’s ExpressVu and American TV programming free. But Bell is saying this is illegal.
There is surging popularity of 18-inch satellite dish and FTA receivers in Toronto among recent, young, and older immigrants who seek to keep up with events, religious programming, and popular shows like Bollywood soaps from India.
“We sell forty to forty-five pieces of receivers each month, and most of the buyers are Indian and Arabic speaking,” says Ragu Bala, the owner of Fortune Computers, one of many store on Kennedy Rd. in Scarborough that sells FTA receivers.
If you live anywhere in the GTA, you are sure to notice an increase in number of satellite dishes, installed on the balconies of many apartment buildings, as well as on the rooftops of many business and residential properties.
However, not all of these satellite TV equipments belong to Bell ExpressVu, one of only two authorized and largest direct-to-home (DTH) satellite providers in Canada.
Buyers simply purchase a legal FTA receiver for around $200, and then download a firmware patch readily available from hundreds of websites on the Internet in order to upgrade their receiver to go along with their FTA dish to watch free, over 300 TV channels.
According to Bell ExpressVu and Industry Canada the use of these receivers for getting unauthorized ExpressVu and American satellite TV programming is illegal.
Users of satellite TV equipment on the other hand, say they desire and pay for satellite signals from outside sources, especially American service in order to gain access to a wider choice and greater selection of popular, foreign language and religious programming that ExpressVu do not carry.
A 37-year old Shelina, a recent immigrant to Toronto found out about FTA receiver availability from her neighbor.
“I bought the FTA box to keep up with the news and religious event from back home,” “Because there are no channels from India on Canadian TV,” Datoo says. She also keeps up with her favorite Bollywood soaps through Dish Network, an American satellite provider.
In May 2007, Bell ExpressVu sent out letter to people they suspect of pirating satellite signal demanding them to pay $ 1000 each.
“Should you fail to respond to this letter or should you choose to reject Bell ExpressVu’s settlement offer, please be advised that Bell ExpressVu will take appropriate steps to protect its rights, including initiating legal proceedings in court seeking the award of damages and other relief.” Reads Part of the Bell ExpressVu letter.
On their website, Bell ExpressVu say signal theft results in revenues loss and copyright disadvantage for Canadian artists, actors and broadcasters, as well as satellite and cable service distributors, costing the Canadian broadcasting system hundreds of millions of dollars each year.
However Bell ExpressVu has no plans to introduce, or offers new service to discourage pirating through FTA receivers. In its place, Bell ExpressVu are utilizing modern technologies to shut down signal thieves by sending out respond in the way of electronic counter measures (ECM’s). A cat and mouse game played ever since the introduction of direct-to-home (DTH) satellite services in North America.
One that Hackers crack the codes to watch free TV and satellite broadcasters such as ExpressVu respond with various electronic counter measures (ECM’s) which changes the code often to deter hackers.
A visit to one of several FTA hackers website proves task to eliminate satellite signal piracy through ECM is a hard nut to crack. After Bell ExpressVu’s latest Electronic Counter Measure response, it took FTA hackers less than 24-hours to come up with the latest firmware used to upgrade the FTA receivers. Within 24-hours, FTA receiver owners in GTA were watching Bell’s ExpressVu and American TV programming without paying a cent.
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