"Many Maltese Are Unaware IPTV Streaming Services Are Illegal" – Melita CEO

Manuel Zarb - 18th August 2017

Kodi, a service used to stream films and TV shows which was ruled illegal in the European Union, is cutting into industry profits for Maltese television service providers.

Kodi streaming was ruled illegal in the European Union by the European Court of Justice last April, but that hasn’t stopped it, along with other similar streaming services, from taking a bite out of local television service providers’ profits.

“The biggest challenge to the Pay TV market in Malta comes from unauthorized providers offering live TV and on-demand video,” said Harald Rösch, CEO of Melita, speaking to this business portal. “Many Maltese people are unaware IPTV streaming services are actually illegal, treating them as another available option on the market. Furthermore, IPTV retailers often advertise on public channels such as newspapers and social media, which reinforces the perception. Piracy gives free access to a vast range of channels which are not available to Malta. However this is not a guaranteed service, with people often paying hefty fees in advance, and investing in something that could be shut down in the near future. One of the ways the government could be of help is to make sure Maltese become aware of such unauthorized services.”

Mr Rösch added that even if Melita wanted to acquire the rights to stream particular channels, “it would not be possible to make them part of our portfolio. On the other hand, we are obliged to invest heavily to be able to offer live TV and Video on Demand to our TV subscribers.”

A GO spokesperson also spoke to MaltaChamber.org.mt about the streaming service. “Over several years GO has invested heavily in its TV services, building a strong offering which gives customers the best entertainment possible. Competition from IPTV services, including Kodi, has unfortunately been a fact of life for many years, not just in Malta but across Europe.”

Speaking on the impact of illegal streaming, the spokesperson said the services, which compete against legitimate rights holders, directly impact investment in content development and production. “The recent ruling making these services illegal is, therefore, a welcome development not only for broadcasters but also, in the long run, for viewers. GO will continue to monitor developments and work to ensure that the rights of TV broadcasters, the owners of TV content, and the rights our customers are fully protected.”

Local retailers of the streaming system who spoke to the media claim that large numbers of Maltese make use of Kodi multimedia players.

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