DECEMBER 4, 2002

TORONTO (CP) - Police have conducted raids against companies in Toronto, Mississauga and Kingston, Ont., this week as part of a crackdown on illegal satellite equipment. On Monday, the RCMP in Kingston, Toronto police and Peel Regional Police seized unauthorized American satellite dishes, receivers, programmers and smart cards. In the Toronto case, they laid charges against one employee under the Criminal Code.

The raids follow similar ones recently in Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Montreal, just as representatives of the Canadian broadcast industry had been complaining about police inaction against the black market in satellite TV.

The Coalition Against Satellite Signal Theft - which comprises broadcasters, cable companies, producers and distributors - has also launched a pre-holiday series of TV ads, to make the point that satellite theft is theft, period.

The coalition said it was "very pleased to see municipal and regional police forces add their resources to those of the RCMP."

The companies raided included (HLV Marketing) in Toronto, and Entertainment Today operations in Mississauga and Kingston.

"We're expecting more in the near future," says Serge Corriveau, a Montreal spokesman for the film and video security office of the Canadian Motion Picture Distributors Association.

"A lot are going to start to go underground, it's going to be more and more difficult."

The raids also followed a recent announcement by CRTC chairman Charles Dalfen that he will hold a meeting at his offices in the near future, involving all the stakeholders in the TV distribution industry, to discuss how to deal with the black market satellite problem.