(This article is from The Lowell Sun - May 5th, 1991)
CABLE COMPANIES GETTING READY TO "ZAP" VIDEO PIRATES !!!
BOSTON (AP) - Attention, cable television pirates: The Jig could soon
Cable operations around New England are cracking down on people stealing
cable television, some with the help of "electronic bullets" - computer
programs instructing converters atop TV sets to malfunction if they have
been altered by "black boxes" or computer chips.
The chips descramble so-called premium channels such as NESN, Sports
Channel, HBO and Pay-Per-View. The bullets, fired from cable company
offices, have no affect on legitimate customers.
"We will be instituting new security stratigies to disable illegally
used cable eguipment and prosecute cable theft," Continental Cablevision
announced in recent newspaper ads.
Continental, based in Portsmouth, N.H. serves about 550,000 subscribers,
mainly north and south of Boston.
On March 13, American Cablevision in New York City fired a bullet at
people stealing its service and pressed and pressed civil charges against
317 people who brought their their damaged boxes in for repair.
Calls from those people effectively became evidence that could be used
"That's the beauty of the bullet," said Tom Steel, general counsel at
the New England Cable Television Association in Braintree, told the Boston
"It's great for court," Steel said. "There's the evidence. In essence,
your case is made."
Continental and New England Sports Network won a $35,000 settlement out
of court in 1989 against three Quincy bars accused of stealing signals with
a satellite dish.
But the theft by residential cable customers is a tougher matter. Theft
by residential customers cost cable companies about $3 billion a year,
according to a national cable trade group.
"Many people think of cable theft as a cocktail crime. It's not," said
Charles Schueller at Cablevision of Boston. It's stealing and it costs
regular subscribers money."
He said Cablevision which serves about 115,000 customers in Boston and
Brookline , plans to step up its pursuit of residential cable pirating.
"We have been very successful in our efforts to stem theft in the
commercial universe," Schueller said, "and we expect to be as successful
in the residential universe."
The cable bullet has also been used in Philadelphia. In Worcester and
western Massachusetts, General Media fired bullets, but spokesman Richard
Kirsche would not provide us with details.
"It's a hard problem," said Kirsche, director of engineering at General
Media. "You're dealing with kind of a Robin Hood factor here. It doesn't
really work out that way. It costs people who are paying for the service
A black box or computer chip used to unscramble cable signals, which
could cost between $200 and $400 , is ruined once the bullet is fired.
( A CABLE TV PIRATES POINT OF VIEW )
"BULLSHIT and BALDERDASH!"
July 16, 1991
I have had a "Pirate Cable Box" for over two years and I want to set
the record straight on what I feel is happening in the cable TV world.
The fact is that cable companies are out to fleece every cent out of
every subscriber that the law will allow.
Seven years ago when I first got cable television, my monthly bill was
about $8.00, including HBO. Today my basic cable bill is about $17.00,
and I no longer pay for or subscribe to HBO.
If a person decides to subscribe to HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and The
Movie Channel, his bill will easily run $45 - $50 a month. If a person
is also addicted to sports, then he MUST have The New England Sports
Network (NESN) and The Sports Channel. He is now going to pay about
$65 a month.
Wait! This subscriber also has children. He needs The Disney Channel
for those kids and must now pay about another $6 a month! He will now
be dishing out approximately $75 a month to the cable company.
In order for the cable subscriber to keep track of what he is watching
the cable company will sell him "Cable Guide" for one dollar more each
month. The book is actually worth its weight in gold to a cable pirate
because it lists every program on every premium channel and on Pay-Per-
View for an entire month. The irony of the book is that the publisher
of Cable Guide kicks back 50% of that $1.00 monthly charge to the cable
The first and largest misconception of the above article is that "it
cost the cable companies about $3 billion a year." That is bull-shit!
The truth is that cable companies DO have about $3 billion in premium
programs stolen a year, BUT if people had to pay for premium channels
and Pay-Per-View programs and movies, they would NOT get them. It is
that simple. A good example of this fact is that I watched the James
Brown Special last month for free. If the only way that I could have
seen that show was to pay $19.95 for it, I would have gone to bed very
early. The Razor Rudduck Vs. Mike Tyson rematch was on Pay-Per-View
last week, BUT again if I had to pay $30 - $40 fto view it, I would
have been playing with my computer that evening. My local cable company
has had no monetary loss because of what I have seen and what I will see.
Cable companies ALWAYS exagerate their losses in order to get the law
enforcement agencies involved in their never ending battle to increase
Here is an interesting little note in dollars & cents about how much
a cable TV subscriber is worth. If a cable company wants to sell part
or all of its subscribers to another cable company, for each cable
running to a single television, the selling price is between $1500 -
$2000 per subscriber. That means if you live on a street with 100
other houses, the selling price of your street would be between
$150,000.00 to $200,000.00 Continental Cable Company has 550,000
subscribers. That adds up to $1,100,000,000.00. Thats over a billion
bucks if you have a problem with big numbers.
Pay-Per-View is the BIGGEST rip off. They charge $5.00 so you can
watch one movie one time. If you fall asleep during the movie, tough
luck. Pay another $5.00 the next day to see what you missed.
The biggest rip offs that Pay-Per-View has to offer are live sports
events such as WWF Wrestling. You get to see the likes of Hulk Hogan,
Jake The Sake, Brutus The Barber Beefcake, and a multitude of others
pretend that they are wrestling for a mere $35 to $40. The guy that
really makes me sick is Rick "Nature Boy" Flair!" He looks like a God
damn over the hill faggot.
Can you imagine Mike Tyson being paid $40 million for fighting any
other human being? Mike Tyson would gladly fight for $1 million if
that was all he could get. Pay-Per-View has accelerated the overpaid
athlete syndrome far beyond what closed circuit broadcasts had ever
Since the conception of Pay-Per-View, a cable subscriber now has
the opportunity to send $100 to $150 every month to his cable company.
Those type of monthly bills are insane. Morons and millionaires are
the only ones who would pay that much.
The only sane alternative to battle these absurd monthly charges is
cable TV piracy. If you decide that you are sick and tired of being
gouged by your local cable company each month, then get your own pirate
cable TV box.
There are companies that sell "altered" cable TV boxes, and they
work perfectly. They will descramble ALL the channels that your cable
company offers. These companies are easily located by looking at
advertisements in the back section of Popular Electronics and Popular
Science. These companies are usually out of state, but they do have
toll free 800 numbers. You can tell that they are not 100% legitimate
because they will not sell a box to anyone in their own state. This is
to avoid local prosecution and other legal ramifications. The people
who work at these companies are a bunch of crooks so don't feel silly
or embarrassed about calling and talking to them.
Without going into a long technical discourse of addressable cable
boxes, you should understand the following two paragraphs.
It is true that cable TV companies do send out signals that tell a
normal cable box what to do. This is called an "addressable system."
The cable TV box atop of your television will respond to several commands
that the cable company sends in a signal to your box. It can turn on or
off any particular channel. It can also turn the entire box off if you
do not pay your cable bill. There are several other commands that the
boxes receives such as the time, but an altered cable box ignores the
"scramble" and the "shut off" commands.
A special chip is added to the altered boxes that you buy. This
special chip keeps a "gate" open so all of the channels will be
unscrambled. This extra chip also eliminates the addressable option
so the cable company can not turn off any channels - they also can
not shut off the box for non-payment of the cable TV bill.
THE ELECTRONIC BULLET: As the above article explained, some cable
tv companies are shooting "electronic bullets" at pirates in an attempt
to burn out their pirate cable boxes.
Gathering information on these bullets seems almost impossible
because the cable TV companies want to keep their little weapon a
deep dark secret.
Unfortunately, the people who are selling the altered cable boxes
do not understand or care about the bullet. They are very much like
the cable companies in the respect that all they want to do is grab
all the money they can, and they do not give a shit about you, or
any future problems that you may encounter with their box. I called
several of the toll-free numbers from my list of altered cable TV box
companies in an attempt to gather some information about how to combat
the bullet, but I received little or no help. One person told me to
buy two FM Traps from Radio Shack and put them in line between the
"in" cable and the altered cable box. This was a waste of time and
money because it blocked the information signals the cable box needs
to perform other functions.
Every company denied that the bullet would affect their pirate box.
They all said that their boxes were immune to the bullet. I was
told that the bullet would only affect boxes that were owned by the
cable TV companies that had been tampered with.
This will not be proven to me until I read another article in the
newspaper that my cable company has been sending out bullets and I
see that my box did or did not burn out as the article said it would.
The 317 people who had charges pressed against them in New York got
exactly what they deserved. Imagine 317 people calling their cable
company to complain that their illegal and stolen cable boxes had
stopped working. It never ceases to amaze me about how utterly stupid
people can be!
This is a very unsettling situation because the cable company who
brought charges against these 317 people did so in a Federal court.
If you do not already realize it, the Federal Government is wants to
have as much control over American citizens in every manner and way
possible. Once again a Federal Magistrate and a Federal Judge have
given themselves more power over its citizens by agreeing to hear this
case. Each time the Feds get involved in such matters, a little bit
more of our constitutional freedom is lost.
To sum this article up in one sentence; "Knowing what I now know
about cable companies, pirate cable TV boxes, the Feds involvement in
enforcing cable company rights, and the possibility of what the bullet
might do, if I did not already own an altered box, I would buy another