THE BIG DEBATE BURSTS BACK - WITH REDI TLHABI

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

DATELINE LAGOS: Pirated television and watching illegally obtained and downloaded TV and films impacts the quality of the content, says M-Net.


Piracy of TV content and films are getting worse in Africa with the growth of the internet and digital advances - and TV viewers across the continent who illegally download and watch, and make use of pirated services and signals are negatively impacting Africa's broadcasters and TV and film industry.

Over the long term this affects the quality of content that African audiences get, because as broadcasters lose revenue and income due to piracy, they have less money to spend.

So says the pan-African pay-TV broadcaster M-Net which supplies various TV channels to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform across the continent.

M-Net and DStv are dependent on revenue from subscription fees from subscribers for the local content produced and the expensive foreign content it has to buy from international distributors in multi-million dollar distribution and output deals.

TV with Thinus asked Biola Alabi, M-Net Africa's managing director for special projects, about the thorny issue of the piracy of TV and film content in Africa, what M-Net is doing about it, and what message there is from M-Net to the ordinary consumer of TV and film content.

"We try to combat piracy in partnership with regulators, and also with the government. We do see piracy as going to continue," says Biola Alabi. "With digital and with technological advances, it has gotten even worse across the continent and we don't see that going away".

"With the growth in digital delivery and digital television, pirate viewing in Africa is further going to increase. But that is where the collaboration between commercial entities like ours and the government and enforcement to combat this, becomes crucial," says Biola Alabi.

"We are working across the continent and we have seen some huge successes to combat it when it comes to piracy. The message we really need to send across the continent when it comes to people watching TV and films illegally, is around education and educating the consumer".

"I think sometimes that consumers don't understand that when you watch illegal content - when you download or subscribe to a pirated service- you're actually doing a disservice to everyone - to yourself, to the people that create content and to the people who are going to be telling these stories. It also impacts on the quality of the content you get," said Biola Alabi.

"What we try to do is to educate audiences at home to subscribe to a legal service and not to watch content obtained illegally. And you know when you subscribe to an illegal service or watching illegally obtained content. So please don't subscribe to illegal services".