A court-ordered injunction led to IPTV transmissions being halted in Malta over the weekend as Italian authorities and international companies push to end the illegal streaming of premium content in various European countries.
“Copyright owners across Europe are becoming increasingly proactive in tackling the issue of IPTV services which illegally provide access to content such as sports and films,” a Melita spokesperson told Lovin Malta.
The Italian football league, Lega Nazionale Professionisti Serie A, has been central in pushing to stop such “criminal activity” leading to them filing successful injunctions in an Italian court.
This happened as the Guardia di Finanza stopped over 1,000 IPTV service providers and platforms in Italy, leading to several Maltese providers finding their service had also stopped and their customers were complaining.
“In Malta, IMG, the agency for Serie A, has filed an injunction in court to tackle piracy by preventing the illegal streaming of Serie A matches,” the spokesperson said. “Following this injunction, Melita and GO, who together legitimately broadcast Serie A matches in Malta, were instructed by the courts to terminate internet access to those individuals or organisations found to be broadcasting Serie A content through illegal IPTV services.”
“These actions do not, in any way, affect the internet access of consumers, nor legitimate TV broadcasts of Serie A matches. Moving forward, Melita will continue to comply with any instructions or requests made by the courts, relevant law enforcement agencies or any authority vested with the right to request such an action,” they said.
IPTV has proliferated in Malta over recent years, with the Broadcasting Authority saying at least one in five Maltese households utilise IPTV services back in 2017.
Melita said it remained committed to safe and legal enjoyment of premium sports content, saying that there was no other country in Europe that offered such a wide variety of content legally for such a low price.
“For €5 per month Melita customers can enjoy Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, La Liga, Champions League and Europa League football, Formula One, Six Nations Rugby, the world’s top golf and tennis tournaments, and more,” they said.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, a GO spokesperson said it was important to distinguish between “legal and illegal IPTV services”.
“Any illegal activity undoubtedly has an impact on society in general. Nonetheless, we are pleased to note that a recent MCA consumer perception survey has indicated that 94% of respondents are satisfied or very satisfied with their current authorised, Pay-TV service provided by regulated operators such as GO.”
The recent crackdown occurred in 12 countries and led to around €10.6 million in assets and equipment being confiscated by the Guardia di Finanza in what is being called Operation Perfect Storm. The results of this operation show a “clear link” between illegal transmissions of TV content and wider ring of organised crime, the spokesperson said.
“Criminal activity, whatever its nature, should not be tolerated and any development to stop such activity is a step in the right direction,” the GO spokesperson said.
However, they made it clear that the Europe-wide clampdown and the interruption of services in Malta were two separate incidents happening concurrently.
“The injunction was filed by IMG, on behalf of Serie A. Consequently, major ISPs, including GO, were ordered by the courts to block illegal IPTV sources. GO has no information on what is being driven by Italian authorities beyond what is already being made public.”
However, as the clampdown continues, with copyright owners of premium football leagues like Serie A or the Premier League continuing to be proactive in taking the pirated service providers down, the GO spokesperson wanted consumers to keep in mind that they are forming part of an illegal racket.
“In such circumstances, it is the end-customer who ultimately suffers the consequence of this illegal racket, with no means of legal recourse available to them,” they ended.