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|04-27-2002, 04:56 PM||#1|
Future NHL Commissioner
Join Date: Jul 20, 2001
Location: Oakville, Ont. Canada
Supreme Court Of Canada says NO to 'grey-market' satellite dishes
I have lived in Canada for more than 30 years and I have always considered myself proud to live here. But when I read newspaper articles like the one I saw yesterday I have to seriously wonder what sort of people are running it and how they can easily get away with the sort of blatant censorship they have imposed on their citizens. Yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada voted unanimously to outlaw the sale of 'grey-market' satellite dishes, meaning brands like DirectTV and DISH are now considered illegal to own and anyone who is seen buying or selling them could face heavy fines or a jail sentence. The grim details are spelled out here in this article from the Toronto Sun:
Friday, April 26, 2002
Court rules on 'grey-market' satellite decoders
By SUE BAILEY -- Canadian Press
OTTAWA -- Police will be asked to crack down on unlicensed dealers who sell satellite TV decoders without authorization, says Industry Minister Allan Rock.
Searches and seizures are expected to focus on those turning a profit -- not viewers whose rec room systems have now been deemed illegal.
Rock made the comment Friday after the Supreme Court of Canada overturned lower court rulings and said federal broadcast law bans unauthorized satellite interceptions.
"We can now ask the enforcement agencies to proceed aggressively to make sure that the purpose of the legislation is achieved," Rock said in an interview from Toronto.
"We're not going to have a strong broadcasting industry if people can steal. And swiping the signal from the sky is not much different from shoplifting or any other form of theft."
The high court ruled 7-0 that unlicensed satellite signal providers breach the Radiocommunication Act that outlaws the unauthorized decoding of encrypted signals.
Individuals can be fined up to $5,000 or receive a maximum one year in jail, while companies can be fined as much as $25,000.
The statute "prohibits the decoding in Canada of any encrypted subscription programming signal, regardless of the signal's origin" unless permitted by "the person holding the necessary lawful rights under Canadian law," said the top court.
Bell ExpressVu and Star Choice, owned by Shaw Communications, are the only licensed direct-to-home satellite providers in Canada.
But thousands of TV viewers, perhaps more than a million by some estimates, prefer programs offered from the United States or other countries. Many have bought mini satellite kits in the U.S. and use the Internet to pirate program codes which are frequently changed to thwart those who don't pay. This is the black market.
So-called grey market satellite businesses feed subscribers signals directly from the U.S. and other foreign sources. In turn, customers pay in American dollars and are issued a fake U.S. address for billing.
Friday's judgment is a victory for Bell ExpressVu which is suing a small British Columbia satellite company.
However, the top court left it open to grey market satellite businesses to make a case in court that the federal law violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
That's what will happen next, said Richard Rex of Can-Am Satellites based in Maple Ridge, B.C.
Being sued by ExpressVu has sapped revenues from the business he started in 1995, he said in an interview. "We had 12 employees and now I have one."
The high court ruling shocked him.
"I don't even feel so bad for myself as I do for all the people who subscribe."
Many are immigrants and refugees who want more foreign language programs than ExpressVu or Star Choice offer, Rex said.
"It tells me that the government sides heavily with the media players in this country and has very little concern for Canadian individual rights."
Rex's defence against ExpressVu will now centre on whether the Radiocommunication Act violates freedom of expression and communication guarantees under the Charter, he said. ExpressVu lawyers say Can-Am is luring business away by enticing consumers who might otherwise obtain a similar service from ExpressVu, a licensed company that must pay to maintain Canadian content in the national broadcasting system.
Can-Am and other companies divert money out of Canadian programming and give nothing back, ExpressVu argues.
Lower courts weren't convinced.
The B.C. Court of Appeal ruled in September 2000 that the Radiocommunication Act does not clearly bar Can-Am from offering Canadians access to foreign signals. It refused to grant ExpressVu an injunction against Can-Am.
Canada's highest court saw the federal act differently.
Federal policy sets out that "Canadian ownership and control of the broadcasting system should be a base premise," wrote Justice Frank Iacobucci for the top court.
It would make no sense for Parliament to have provided for Canadian ownership, production and content but then "leave the door open for unregulated, foreign broadcasting to come in and sweep all of that aside," he said, quoting the arguments of government lawyers.
Now that the high court has ruled, viewers need to understand that having an unauthorized dish is illegal, said Ian Gavaghan, vice-president of ExpressVu.
"If I were them, I would take the dish back to their dealer and get their money back."
This is blatantly unfair! I wish I knew some way around this. What is it that they say? You can't fight City Hall? Well this time, the government is really asking for a fight! It has always puzzled me why Canadians have never been allowed to receive popular US stations like MTV, ESPN, Nickelodeon, or TV Land, but instead we get our own rip-off versons like MuchMusic, and you should see what they've done to TNN. It's just ugly! This is why more than a million Canadians, and I have to wonder if that number will increase now, go out and buy US model dishes instead of the accepted Canadian models ExpressVu and StarChoice. If the cable companies only offered more of the US channels that people wanted, then all of this perceived deception would not be necessary. But now it seems that they will proceed as usual with their own agenda, having achieved their goal and failing to realize who is really responsible for their business. I would really love a chance to put those responsible in their place and hope that I can make a difference here and encourage others to do the same but I'll need some help and some ideas. How can we stop this injustice? Like the commercial used to say...I want my MTV! and a lot more, too! and it's time all Canadians did as well, without feeling like we're wanted criminals. This ruling must not be taken lying down. Who's with me here?
Classic TV Online
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