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#528546 - 01/26/18 06:14 AM Copyright Pressures May End Premium Channels On Cable  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,708
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Global Intellectual Property Pressures May End Premium Channel Spree On Cable

It’s not exactly a sexy issue - but intellectual property is an emerging topic of national importance. It may seem remote to you - but it could be as close as that remote control at your fingertips.  We’re talking about cable television - and those 200 plus channels which you pay 45 dollars a month for.  

It’s the cheapest, and dollar for dollar, best cable in the world - and - the be blunt - it’s made possible by mass copyright infringement - which doesn't pay for the intellectual property of the US based rights owners.  

But that could great cable package could change soon - as it has in other Caribbean countries.  Belize is now coming under the microscope for its rather loose intellectual property regime.  

Earlier this week on the show “Know Your Rights” here on Channel 7, intellectual property specialist, Attorney Marissa Longsworth explained the peculiar situation of cable television in Belize:…

Host
"In an issue of cable television for instance we have so many channels. I know whenever people from abroad come here and they see. How are you getting that, how do you have HBO in your thing, you bought the package? Package? We don't know about that. How does that work?"

Marissa Longsworth - Attorney & IP Specialist
"This one is bit of a touchy issue but I will answer. The truth of the matter is that Belize is falling into the same category that a lot of Caribbean countries are falling into as it relates to cable and satellite infringement. So what our cable companies tend to do is to just to pick the satellite feed and then redistribute it amongst all of their subscribers. This is wrong because under intellectual property every use deserve its own compensation so you can't pay one time and then redistribute thousands of times without payment. Now cable operators and broadcasters are not 100% to blame this is an issue that has come up through -- it's become an international trade issue because the United States has actually sited Jamaica, Barbados and Trinidad as infringing on the rights of their content creators particularly through one cable company. Belize is also sighted in some reports for not complying with copyright as it relates to signal piracy and so on. So the truth is we are not supposed to have these channels at the cost that we have them. In any other country in the world the expectation is that you pay for licenses from those programmers to use and distribute their content. So for example HBO being a premium channel that doesn't advertise makes it money from subscriber ship not from advertisements and so they depend on having subscriber ship through cable operators and so on that help to pay their bills so HBO will be one of the first ones here like they did in Jamaica, they were the first ones in Jamaica. Essentially what is going to happen is there will come a day when the crack happens in Belize, we've been under the radar but I don't know if many people know that our piracy issues date back to the 1980s, there are stories on the internet about us wanting to watch the Cubs, the Chicago Cubs and that was the introduction on piracy in Belize in the 1980s.”

You can see the full show repeat on Sunday on Channel 7.

Longsworth is advising the government on National Intellectual Property Rights Strategy and part of that deals with lessening copyright non-compliance in broadcast licensing.  The US is pressing Belize and other developing nations to conform to global intellectual property standards.

Channel 7


#528931 - 02/16/18 05:59 AM Re: Copyright Pressures May End Premium Channels On Cable [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,708
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

Could Cable Operators Be Forced to Pull The Plug On Your HBO?

Cable television as you know it might be coming to an end - and that’s because - after years of avoidance - copyright compliance could be imposed upon Belize soon.  Today executives from HBO Latin America were in Belize to have what we are told was a stiff meeting with the Belize Cable TV Operators Association.  According to a two sentence release from the BCTVOA, their Board of Directors, quote,  “held a meeting today…to outline a road map to copyright compliance.”  End quote.  We are told the meeting was led by Phil Welcome - who is the Director of anti-piracy for HBO Latin America.  

It’s the first time an executive with such seniority and specialization has come to Belize to discuss anti-piracy - and it denotes a change in tone on this long lingering issue.  That change in tone is also apparent at the state level where the office of the United States Trade Representative is pressuring Belize to become copyright compliant.  

So what does “the road to copyright compliance” mean for you?  Well, probably anywhere between 75% and 90% of those 225 cable channels you get on your TV are pirated.  And that includes all those premium channels such as HBO, STARZ, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, ENCORE, SCI-FI…and the list goes on and on…

But, once cable operators are forced to be copyright compliant, they may have to pull those channels - or pay for it, and offer them as a premium package which you would have to pay more to see.

HBO is the first premium channel owner to arrive and they could be demanding as much as five dollars per subscriber from cable operators.  Both sides are expected to meet again in a few weeks.

Rampant piracy has persisted in Belize since the advent of television - and it has made for the cheapest channel for channel cable package - probably in the world. Today’s meeting suggests that the free ride could finally be coming to an end.

We’ll keep following the story.

Channel 7


HBO Demands Copyright Compliance from Cable Operators

Ready to pay more for basic cable? It could happen as issues of copyright compliance come to Belize. Home Box Office, the giant pay-per-view movie and special programming service, sent principals of its Latin American subsidiary to Belize to meet today with the Board of Directors for Belize’s Cable Television Operators Association.

Their discussion is to outline a road map to copyright compliance. But the final note should shock fear into Belizeans, as the Association says it will soon be signing a copyright agreement with H.B.O. It means that the U.S. version of the channel will disappear from our screens along with related channels and be replaced by the Latin American version.

There have long been complaints that rights for channels and special events like the Olympics and World Cup have been secured by certain companies for large sums of money, only to see pirates air the programs practically for free. It’s also true for local television stations such as this one. Even though rights to major international events are acquired by local stations, cable companies often proceed to show the games without buying sub-licenses for the rights holders.

The members of the cable board are President Evan Tench; vice president Pedro Salazar; treasurer Pedro Lizarraga and directors Errol Cattouse and Carol Reich, representing all the major cable operators countrywide.

Channel 5


#528949 - 02/17/18 06:18 AM Re: Copyright Pressures May End Premium Channels On Cable [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 56,708
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

It’s Not TV, It’s HBO: Cable Will Cost You More

The pressure is building on Belizeans in the creative industries – broadcasting, both radio and television, and music and the arts – to begin recognizing copyright and intellectual property and pay the requisite fees to satisfy rights holders. Among the first of the major international companies to come calling on Belize is Home Box Office, considered a premium channel which depends entirely on subscribership. But don’t expect the line to be drawn at World Championship Boxing or your favorite movies – the government is under pressure from the U.S. trade representative to enforce copyright compliance across the broadcasting sector, which could put a dent in your pocket. But there is a silver lining to report, and that is that Belizeans in those creative industries can take advantage to protect their own creations from being similarly misused. News Five’s Aaron Humes breaks it all down in the following report.

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Thursday’s meeting between members of the Belize Cable TV Operators Association and representatives of HBO Latin America comes at a critical time for the broadcasting industry in Belize and the region. President Evan Tench, who declined an interview at this time as negotiations with HBO are ongoing, said it has been three years since those negotiations started. And they will add up to significant changes for Belizeans’ TV viewing habits, according to attorney specializing in intellectual property and copyright, Marissa Longsworth. She cites the example of her native Jamaica.

Marissa Longsworth, In-House Attorney, CILGlobal IP Ltd.

“When we look at this aspect of what is happening with contracting and enforcement of IP for compliance, this is one subset of what we have discussed in the plan, that copyright compliance will become necessary. It is something that the Government of Belize is aware of; it’s something that almost everybody that is very involved in IP is aware of because in 2014, 2015, Jamaica went through this exact same issue. I was present in Jamaica, working in the field at the time when this happened in 2015. So really and truly it was sort of a matter of time before these programmers reached Belize. In Jamaica, what ended up happening was one day, twenty-two channels were cut from the cable packages in a single day. And that goes to show you that once there is a recognition of the fact that compliance is necessary and the programmers are serious, once those programmers put their foot down there is really not much we can do. Because the facts are clear: they created it, they are not being paid for it, and they have a right to enforce against the usage of the content they’ve created.”

That is the extreme scenario, but the presence of Phil Welcome, Director of Anti-Piracy for HBO Latin America at Thursday’s meeting, according to Tench, makes it frighteningly plausible. More likely to happen is that Belizeans will pay more, or separately, for premium channels such as HBO, Starz, Showtime, Cinemax and so on and favorite movies and sports shows will disappear from local television stations.

Marissa Longsworth

“HBO is a little bit different because it is what we call a premium channel offering – they rely on subscribership in order to be paid; they don’t have advertisements running to help bolster their finances. So what tends to happen in other Caribbean countries which I imagine might be the proposal here, will be to have those premium channel offerings through package deals. So you can have a basic package, but then maybe have an HBO add-on or a Showtime add-on or whatever that may be; it just won’t be available in the basic package anymore.”

Any final decisions must go through the Belize Broadcasting Authority. But even with the pain of any higher price increases, there will be opportunity for television stations like Channel Five to earn more from in-house produced content, and local artists and entertainers through BSCAP to earn royalties for usage of their music in television programs, commercials and the like. Here is what deputy registrar of BELIPO Olabimpe Akinkuolie told us following a workshop on registration of intellectual property designs last year.

Olabimpe Akinkuolie, Deputy Registrar, BELIPO [File: May 23rd, 2017]

“One can say that this caters mostly to the international foreigners who want to bring in their industrial design, or rather register their industrial design in Belize; but it also assists us as local artisans, local designers who want to take their product into the international realm by using this facility being provided by WIPO in having their industrial designs first of all have it registered here in Belize and then from there on, you can have it registered in any designated country that you choose to. So we encourage local artisans: not to just put aside your handicraft or put aside your design; the world wants to see your design. And if you have it on you, please come over to our office and we would assist you in whatever way to have your design registered and also take it through the process of having it registered internationally.”

The same holds true for local creative content makers.

Marissa Longsworth

“This issue is so important and urgent, not only for local Belizean creators, but also owners of intellectual property from outside. I had to come off my sick leave with my eye and all to explain this to you: Belize will be all the better for the change and the advancement and the maturity in contracting intellectual property. We as a country can see an explosion in our own creative industries. I’m sure many of us are seeing new TV shows, new artistes who are crossing over into mainstream, new everything – new graphic designers, digital content creation, which means that we Belizeans are as much entitled to our intellectual property rights as a foreign owner.”

Channel 5


HBO “bringing down the hammer” on Belizean cable consumers

If you have cable television at home there is a possibility that you may no longer be allowed to watch Lifetime, Cinemax, Sci-Fi or any of the 14 channels that are a part of the Home Box Office (HBO) package.

That is because executives at the anti-piracy and commercial divisions of HBO, an American premium cable and satellite television network owned by Time Warner, visited Belize last week demanding compensation for the broadcast of their channels in Belize.

If cable providers decline to cover costs for the package, the channels may no longer be available to their subscribers.

Today, our newspaper spoke to the general manager at the Channel Broadcasting Corporation of Belize Ltd. (CBC), Vanessa Peyrefitte.

While Belize has long enjoyed pirated cable for decades, Peyrefitte told our newspaper that the enforcement of copyright laws in Belize will force the nature of the cable industry to change from community-based television to more tiered packages that suit more individualized tastes.

She said that CBC is committed to becoming more copyright-compliant, but in so doing, it will increase CBC’s operational costs.

She conceded that the costs proposed by HBO at the meeting were higher than what cable providers had anticipated.

“The cost is not what we were vying for…it is higher than what we wanted to pay,” she explained.

When asked if consumers who are already paying CBC $47 monthly would have to absorb those costs imposed by HBO, she was unable to give a definitive response, but she did say that it was a possibility that all consumers of all cable companies would have to consider.

“We’ve been getting a free ride to some extent,” she said, while maintaining that rates for cable subscription were low in Belize when compared regionally and internationally.

Amandala was unable to get a comment from the chief executive officer at Central Cable Vision because he is out of the country, but we did speak to the president of the Belize Cable TV Operators Association, Evan Tench.

Tench explained that negotiations with executives at HBO had been ongoing for almost three years. However, they have not yet signed off on any agreement. He explained that when HBO made a proposal for $8 US monthly per household, Belize counter-proposed.

And so, in the next few weeks, HBO will make a new proposal.

When asked whether the association had concerns that other channels would also request compensation, Tench agreed that that was a possibility.

However, he indicated that Belize was already paying for several channels. For example, we signed an agreement with the Turner Network, which includes channels like TNT, PBS, CNN, etc., he said.

“We’ve also signed an agreement with Aljazeera and EWTN”, he said, adding that additionally, “we are in the process of re-signing with the Discovery Channel”.

Like Peyrefitte, Tench explained that Belize must honor copyright agreements.

Amandala



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