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Grey market in satellite broadcasting

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In television and radio broadcasting, grey markets primarily exist in relation to satellite radio and satellite television delivery.

The most common form this takes is companies reselling the equipment and services of a provider who is not licensed to operate in the market. For instance, a Canadian consumer who wants access to American television and radio services that are not available in Canada may approach a grey market reseller of Dish Network or DirecTV; conversely, there is also a (much smaller) grey market in the United States for Canadian satellite services such as Bell ExpressVu or StarChoice.

In Europe, satellite TV services are also encrypted for rights reasons, as they are only entitled to broadcast films, sporting events and US entertainment programming in a certain country or countries, hence only residents of the UK and Ireland may subscribe to Sky. However, in other European countries with large British expatriate populations, such as Spain, Sky is widely available. Although Sky does not condone the use of its viewing cards outside the UK or Ireland, and has the technology to render them invalid, many people continue to use them.

Illegitimate importing of "free-to-view" Sky cards from the UK to Ireland is often done so that Irish Sky customers can receive Channel 4 and Five - some of the few channels not generally available via Sky in the Republic due to rights issues. Similarly, Irish Sky viewing cards, which allow viewing of Irish terrestrial channels, are imported into the UK. However, Northern Ireland residents subscribing to Sky can now watch RTÉ One and Two and TG4, although not TV3, which carries many of the same programmes as ITV.

In the UK, some pubs have obtained viewing cards to receive satellite TV from Norway, which broadcasts live English football matches only available on pay-per-view on Sky, although they have faced legal action from rights holders and broadcasters.

A reseller may also offer the licensed product at lower prices using pirate decryption of scrambled signals, although unlike grey market cards used outside a particular country, this may result in civil or criminal prosecution (if against local laws).

 

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