Officials from the African Union of Broadcasting (AUB) and French broadcasting giant Canal+ Group discussed issues relating to TV signal piracy during a recent meeting held ahead of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (ACON) football tournament.
With the 2021 tournament set to take place in January and February next year after being postponed due to Covid, the meeting was aimed at ensuring technical and legal measures are put in place to secure the signal of African channels broadcasting the tournament.
According to the AUB, piracy was a significant problem during the last ACON, which was held in Egypt in 2019. African broadcasters spend significant money to acquire the rights to show the games, while also relying on ad revenue earned during their coverage of the tournament.
AUB CEO Grégoire Ndjaka said: “Our permanent concern is the protection of TV signal. The fight ought to be carried at all levels. Are you allowed to screen the match? If yes, there is no problem. Secure your signal. But if you don’t have a broadcast contract, should you be allowed to operate illegally while others are paying? That’s the problem.”
From a technical point of view, Alexandre Gruner, director of channel relations and partnerships at Canal+, said; “If we have compelling evidence and take note of any illegal activity on Canal+ bouquet concerning AFCON or the FWC [next year’s Fifa World Cup], rest assured, we will suspend your signal.”
Sebastien Punturello, MD of Canal+ Senegal, added: “I spend at least 20-30% of my time fighting signal piracy. For several years, we have actively led the battle thanks to the support of local authorities, our relations, various ministries and the National Audiovisual Regulatory Council – CNRA Senegal.
“Almost everywhere on the continent, television signal piracy is developing using handcrafted techniques, helped by ICTs and other rival groups whose audience rates sometimes compete with those of Canal+, whereas they haven’t acquired the right to broadcast in certain territories in sub-Saharan Africa.”