Hbo To Pirates: Surrender Or Else

Posted: January 09, 1986

There are several thousand video pirates in this city, sitting smugly in armchairs and watching illegal TV, contend attorneys for Home Box Office affiliates. They plan a counter raid today.

At a press conference this morning at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel, officials of the entertainment cable franchises were to announce the second phase of a plan to crack down on those who get HBO signals for free and deprive affiliates of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Each of the video pirates identified through private surveillance will be

sent a letter ordering them to take down their illicit microwave antenna receivers, said attorney Kelly Tillery, who is acting as local counsel for the region's affiliates, ACS Enterprises of Bensalem, Bucks County; Home Theatre Inc. of Bryn Mawr, Montgomery County; and Video Consultants Inc. of Wynnewood, Montgomery County.

They also will be ordered to pay $300 to HBO to settle the company's claim against them, said Tillery, and if that doesn't work, the affiliates will file a class-action lawsuit seeking "much larger damages" in February.

He said fines under the statute prohibiting illegal reception "are up to $10,000 per reception."

Under the criminal code, sneaking signals is theft of services, but the DA's office "doesn't have the time or the resources to puruse the matter," said Tillery. He said attorneys intend to discuss with the DA prosecuting larger commercial pirates, such as bars and apartment buildings.

"I think you'll see people all over the city climbing up and taking down their equipment tomorrow," Tillery predicted last night.

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