£10-a-Month Pirate Sky TV Subscription Ring Exposed

By Gerald Lynch on at

£10-a-month for every Sky TV channel, a subscription package that would usually cost closer to £80 a month? If it sounds too good to be legal, that's because it is. Like a scene from Jim Carey's The Cable Guy, UK broadcasters are facing an increasingly serious problem when it comes to illegal satellite TV installations.

A new undercover BBC report will air tonight, exposing a wide-ranging network of dodgy installation engineers offering bargain subscription packages and pocketing the profits themselves. It's a practice taking place in every city across the country, with Swansea and Cardiff highlighted as having a particular prevalence of knocked-off satellite installations, with pubs showing illegal football streams regularly being exposed as using the equipment.

The illegal subscriptions can be accessed using modified set-top box hardware that stream encryption codes from the internet. It's a system so well executed that pay TV providers find it incredibly difficult to track down customers of the illegal installers, with some experts estimating illegal installation numbers may match those of legitimate ones. But while consumer convictions have yet to be a focus of the authorities, those caught providing the equipment can face a 10 year prison sentence and unlimited fine.

It's a fascinating look at the underground industry. The BBC's Inside Out show airs tonight on BBC One at 7.30pm, and will be available on the iPlayer for seven days following tonight's broadcast. [BBC]