RA acts against unregulated IPTV
Steps to stop providers of subscription TV services operating on the island without a licence have been taken by the Regulatory Authority of Bermuda.
And it has warned the public about the dangers of signing up for a “bargain” unlicensed service, where streaming television is provided across the internet, rather than through terrestrial, satellite or cable networks.
In addition, two of Bermuda’s telecommunications providers have raised concerns at the impact on their businesses as a result of unlicensed IPTV [internet protocol TV] providers.
The RA has contacted a number of unregulated IPTV providers that offer services on the island, telling them that they must immediately cease the provision of IPTV services until they have obtained authorisation from the RA.
During the past few months it has warned that if enforcement action is taken, an unregulated IPTV provider could be liable to a financial penalty of up to 10 per cent of their total annual turnover. In addition, if prosecuted they could face imprisonment and a fine of $50,000, with a further $25,000 fine each day any contravention continues.
One Communications and Wow both raised the issue of unlicensed providers of subscription TV in submissions to the RA during the summer.
OneComm said it was “concerned about the continued impact of unlicensed providers of subscription TV on its business and on the integrity of the process and calls upon the RA to take action to enforce the statutory licensing requirements against these illegal providers”.
Wow said it faced challenges “dealing with the effect of unlicensed subscription TV services being provided illegally in Bermuda” and said “unlicensed competition is undermining the local subscription TV business“.
In response, the RA said it recognised there is both a licensing enforcement challenge as well as demand-side issues to be addressed, and it plans to take effective action against unlicensed service providers.
It added: “However, the majority of these providers have no physical or legal presence in Bermuda, which will require consideration of enforcement issues. The RA also plans to develop ways to raise awareness of this issue on the part of users and potential users of unlicensed services.”
The RA said it intended to work with Wow, OneComm, consumer groups and other affected stakeholders to identify effective ways of preventing the continued provision and take-up of unlicensed subscription TV services in Bermuda.
The RA issued advice to the public about the dangers surrounding unregulated IPTV in June.
It said: “The RA regulates licensed providers of IPTV services in Bermuda, but there are many unlicensed and illegal IPTV offerings that could put your consumer rights in jeopardy. You might be considering, or may have already purchased, what seems to be a ‘bargain’ IPTV subscription service and it is worth knowing the risks involved.”
The risks include exposing personal data including bank and credit card details to potential criminals.
Malware, phishing and spyware are also dangers that exist when installing unfamiliar software packages on TV streaming devices, the RA said. It added that unlicensed providers can also stop their service at any time leaving the customer out of pocket, and the illegitimate IPTV provider is not bound to have proper consumer protection in place.
The RA “strongly recommends” that a subscription is only taken out with one of the locally regulated IPTV providers, who are Digicel, LiveNet TV, OneComm, Wow and Bluewave.
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