Lebanon Businessnews News

Cable providers will be prosecuted
Cable monthly subscription fees to be amended
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Starting May 1, local cable providers have been prohibited from broadcasting for free the eight local TV channels: Télé Liban, Future TV, LBCI, al-Jadeed, al-Manar, OTV, MTV, and NBN. This follows a decree issued on April 11 by Economy Minister Alain Hakim.

Cable providers have stopped airing LBCI and Al Jadeed stations and the remaining channels will follow. Channels are still accessible through satellite providers Econet and Cablevision.

Last March, these channels agreed to move from free programming to fee-based broadcasting. Station representatives agreed to a $4 (LL6,000) bouquet per month for all stations, with the sum to be paid by cable providers.

According to Talal Makdessi, Chairman of the Board of Télé Liban, the problem resides in the refusal of some cable providers to settle their business and pay for the broadcast rights.

Attorney Wissam Mansouri, spokesperson and representative of the TV stations said that violators will be prosecuted. “Codes 87 and 88 of the Intellectual Property Law specify that offenders shall be subject to fines and imprisonment for a period of three months to three years,” he said. Code six of the broadcast media law mandates that illegal broadcasters would face confiscation of all their tools and equipment, if they do not abide by the law.

“The case was taken to court today and a few days will reveal what the final decision would be. Measures will be taken accordingly,” he said.

Cable providers willing to obtain the rights to broadcast the channels may submit their requests to Mansouri’s office and sign the appropriate legal documents between May 1 and June 1. They will have to submit the total number of their subscribers and pay $4 per subscriber. “The channels’ administrations have agreed to put aside the sums due for the previous 20 years, on the condition that they settle the current broadcast rights,” Mansouri said.

In the absence of laws regulating the telecommunications sector, most consumers receive their subscriptions from unlawful cable companies that operate through piracy and charge between LL10,000 and LL25,000 per month. According to Mansouri, monthly subscription fees might be reviewed in some areas because of the dissimilarity between the regions.
Reported by Rana Freifer
Date Posted: May 05, 2015
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