Pay-TV piracy boarders on anarchy

Lions Gate vice chairman Michael Burns kick started the 2010 CASBAA conference warning that pay-TV piracy is the single biggest threat to today's media business.

Burns, the keynote presenter at this year's conference titled "Unlock Your Networks", said Asia is now one of its key areas of focus, but piracy, he said, boarders on anarchy and is a serious threat to all media businesses.

"Entertainment content is a precious commodity like oil and gas and there isn't a business model in the world where 20, 40 and 50 cents of each dollar is lost to pirated products. We look to our production, distribution and government partners to work with us in fighting the single, most vicious threats to our media industry today," he said.

Despite this Burns was optimistic about is future in what he called one of the most promising media markets in the world.

"When we look at the future, Asia is a critical cross-road for us, as it is for many businesses today. The logic of an Asian growth market is compelling as we learn how to satisfy an audience and monetize the Asian appetite for film and entertainment.

"Double digital growth in pay-TV markets and a broadband environment that uses bits and bites is being used to shatter long-standing national and cultural barriers," he added.

The vast untapped markets of China and India are also areas independent film studio Lions Gate Entertainment is looking to for new growth.

“Asia today is the wild East where extraordinary opportunity awaits all of us - if we don’t shoot ourselves in the head first.”

Burns said content owners often look at these newer markets with outdated views and ideas about content and distribution models.

“We look at these markets with limitations encroached by our own thinking, not market forces. Content owners must lose their tunnel vision when they look at world markets.

"They need to start adding lots of zeros when they look at the revenue potential of Asian media, because this is one of the greatest opportunities we will see in our lifetime. Even a short delay in capitalising on this marketplace will cost this industry billion of dollars," he said.

“When we look at markets like India, China and Japan we should be thinking in hundreds of millions, not hundreds of thousands, because the consumer appetite for content is rampant and so is the opportunity.”

Lions Gate, which produces the Mad Men TV series, is also making a bigger play for the film and TV business via a merger with the debt struck MGM studios. MGM owns the largest film library in Hollywood with franchises including James Bond, Pink Panther and Rocky.