Pirated Sky TV sold for £10 a month

Inside Out goes undercover to expose the criminals touting illegal pay-for-view TV packages at knock-down prices.

Related Stories

Criminal gangs are selling hacked pay television services at a fraction of their true cost, a BBC investigation has revealed.

Subscribers to satellite or cable TV can pay more than £80 a month to legitimately receive premium packages.

But fraudsters were caught on camera selling set-top boxes which access equivalent packages for £10 per month.

In light of the findings, experts warned hacked satellite and cable TV is increasing and becoming the "new norm".

How it works

The television signal is received in the usual way, but it is encrypted by the broadcasters in an attempt to prevent piracy. The boxes use the internet to stream the encryption key, allowing the viewer to receive channels.

One of the fraudsters exposed by the BBC London/Inside Out investigation was Gyula Markovits, a Venezuelan satellite dish installer living in south London. He sold hacked boxes that receive every conceivable channel for less than an eighth of the normal monthly price.

While installing a hacked system, Mr Markovits was secretly recorded saying: "Yes, of course it's illegal - you're getting something for free that you should be paying for.

"They never go after the customers anyway, they go after the guy that runs the network.

"You can buy the box and it shows you all the Sky channels for one year - I do it myself. That's a very underground thing, really."

Start Quote

So many people are doing it, it is becoming the norm”

End Quote Dr Luke McDonagh Copyright law expert

He boasted that he had 150 customers, generating him almost £20,000 a year in illicit income. Mr Markovits subsequently denied all wrongdoing.

Shop 'closed'

Another fraudster, who called himself Ahmed, sold BBC researchers numerous fraudulent packages from satellite TV shop Golsat in Upton Park, east London.

He said of the £150 access to all Sky movies and sport: "This is nothing for what you [are] going to watch, seriously."

Within days of being confronted with the BBC's evidence, Golsat appeared to shut down.

A poster on the door said it had "closed for refurbishment". Ahmed did not respond to a request for a comment.

Under the Copyright Act, those convicted of supplying the equipment could face a 10-year jail sentence and unlimited fine.

Sky, BT and Virgin have all refused to reveal how many cases of hacked TV they encounter a year.

But the BBC heard of dozens of examples of the fraud spread right across the UK, both tip-offs and cases currently going through the courts.

It is a nationwide problem, with Swansea and Cardiff highlighted as hotspots for pubs using cracked boxes to stream Premier League football.

Gang rumours

Keith Cottenden, forensic services director at consultants Cy4or, said there were some areas in the UK where those hacking satellite TV outnumber viewers paying for it legitimately.

He said: "Some of the stats don't make good reading for the providers.

"In some areas, there are not as many subscribers as there are others.

Ahmed The shop from which 'Ahmed' offered his illegal service has closed down

"Within the urban areas, it's widespread - most cities have a wide network of people doing this."

During the investigation, the BBC accompanied City of London Police's Intellectual Property Crime Unit raiding an individual in Liverpool suspected of being the ringleader of a gang supplying the boxes to customers around the country.

Documentation was seized and officers continue to investigate.

The BBC heard reports from the police of numerous gangs. Managers at Golsat and Mr Markovits were recorded saying that they were part of a wider gang, implementing, managing, selling and marketing the devices that perpetuated the fraud.

Dr Luke McDonagh, an expert in copyright law at Cardiff University, said: "The problem is there, it's getting more widespread and the big broadcasters are trying to cut down on it by targeting the criminal enterprises that are running these pirated systems.

Code The hacked set-top boxes stream encryption codes from the internet

"But it's very difficult to crack down on the use of cracked decoders by consumers - so many people are doing it, it is becoming the norm.

"If it continues then we may see the broadcasters having to change their model like the music industry has with things like Spotify - it could become that wide-scale."

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) said the illegal pirating of paid-for television was not a victimless crime.

Fact spokesman Eddy Leviten said: "Is it fair that someone will be able to steal from someone else and that person will not be not paid for their work?

"That impacts not just on that one single person but on their families as well, all those who rely on that income."

One of the individuals exposed has now been referred to trading standards.

A spokesman for Newham council said that as a result of the BBC's investigation the authority had referred Mr Markovits and his business to its trading standards team.

Between them Sky, Virgin and BT have 17.5m legitimate pay-TV customers.

Inside Out is broadcast on BBC One London on Monday, 10 February at 19:30 GMT and nationwide on the iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites

BBC London



14 °C 10 °C

BBC Local Live

    'Quietways' announced 09:30:

    Phase two of London's cycle "Quietways" scheme has been announced, extending segregated cycle lanes and junction changes to all 32 boroughs.

    Artists impression of the new lanes

    Phase one comprises seven routes in 15 boroughs, the first of which are due to open in spring 2015 and phase two would re-shape roads and junctions in Ealing and Twickenham town centres and other major thoroughfares.

    Community 'split' 09:21:

    Residents of Leyton are split over a plan to stop drivers using a number of roads as a "rat-run" - This Is London Local reports today.

    People living in six roads off Lea Bridge Road are split over an attempt to prevent roads in the Barclay Estate being used as a rat-run.

    Chair should stand down 09:10:

    The Lord Mayor of London - who chairs of the public inquiry into historical sex abuse - should step down, a lawyer representing victims has said.

    Fiona Woolf

    Alison Millar said Fiona Woolf lacked "credibility" among victims and had "no background" in child protection.

    News on the hour 09:00: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    The headlines this hour:

    • The government has dismissed as "nonsense" claims by Labour that the increasing use of private ambulances in London is more evidence of the creeping privatisation of the NHS.
    • The Lord Mayor of London is under growing pressure to resign as the chair of the inquiry into historical child sex abuse in public institutions.
    Dead cyclist named 08:50:

    A cyclist who died three days after a collision with a lorry in the City of London has been named by police.

    Janina Gehlau

    Janina Gehlau, 26, was on Ludgate Hill, close to the junction with Farringdon Street, when the crash happened at about 11:30 on Friday morning.

    Coming up 08:40: BBC London 94.9 Radio

    With Vanessa from 09:00, Dentists say it would help tackle shocking levels of tooth decay.

    Should teachers have to teach children to clean their teeth?

    What do you think? Call 020 7224 2000.

    Watch: Car-free Oxford Street 08:26:

    London's Oxford Street is "doomed to decline" unless it is pedestrianised by 2020, a report has suggested.

    Oxford Street

    Problems with congestion, pollution and safety needed to be resolved, The Case for Pedestrianisation report by the London Assembly Liberal Democrats said.

    Broken Down Lorry 08:22: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    On the A2, a broken down lorry in the Eltham Tunnel is causing queues back to Dartford Heath.

    For the latest travel news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

    Road Delays 08:16: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    An accident on the A40 eastbound, at the Polish War Memorial is causing delays from Hillingdon

    For the latest travel news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

    Latest headlines
    Lighter Winds 08:09:

    It will be a cool start to the day, but there should be plenty of sunshine this morning with much lighter winds than yesterday.

    It should remain dry through the afternoon, however it will become cloudier and more breezy. Maximum temperature: 14C (57F).

    Train Delays 08:03: Louise Pepper Journalist, BBC London

    Southern Trains have delays out of London Bridge because of a signalling problem.

    For the latest travel news go to our travel page or on Twitter @BBCLondonTravel.

    Good Morning 08:00: Duncan Smith BBC News Online

    I'll be bringing you the latest news, sport, travel and weather from across the capital today for BBC Local Live.

    You can also send your news, pictures and comments to london.locallive@bbc.co.uk or tweet @BBCLondonNews.



Elsewhere on the BBC

  • FutureThe future is now

    Get the latest updates and biggest ideas from BBC Future’s World-Changing Ideas Summit


  • St John's, CanadaThe Travel Show Watch

    It’s a ships’ symphony – listen to these freighters in Canada play music with their horns

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.