Blocking sites that enable copyright infringement will help counter the scourge of piracy in South Africa, Nu Metro told MyBroadband.
“[Piracy] affects the creative content industry detrimentally as a whole,” it said.
Anti-piracy measures must also be extended to curb the sale of illegal DVDs on street corners and other venues, as well as peer-to-peer torrent services online.
“We fully support the efforts of SAFACT and the SAPS in this regard,” said Nu-Metro.
Nu Metro’s comments come after a report by Russia’s telecommunications regulator, which said that cinema attendance and revenues increased by 11% after 8,000 pirate sites were blocked during 2017.
“A positive increase in revenue would of course be beneficial to any business, no matter the environment they operate in,” said Nu Metro.
“And yes, an increase in revenue in the cinema industry is one of our primary objectives.”
Nu Metro stated that blocks should not apply to legal streaming or movie download services, however.
It said these platforms run parallel to the cinema industry, and research has proven that movie fans who legally download movies are also loyal cinemagoers.
“Nu Metro would never support any blocking efforts that amount to censorship, including self-censorship, or any form of limitation placed on the freedom of expression by creative content producers – rights enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution and Bill of Rights.”
Ster-Kinekor agreed that piracy is a problem and a threat to the movie industry, but said you can’t compare South Africa to countries like Russia.
“For us to sustain the existing levels of growth in cinema as a category, our focus continually needs to be on how to innovate further around the entertainment experience by focusing on how to package and promote content across multiple platforms,” said Ster-Kinekor.
Content and experience will have the most significant impact on the question of attendance and revenue, it added.
“While cinema remains one of the entertainment platforms positioned to meet the requirement for a premium experience, our efforts to respond to the challenge of choice must be founded in the needs of our audiences.”
There is no silver bullet for this, neither is there one solution to combat piracy, it said.
“The future of cinema is multifaceted and we need to come together as an industry to plot and embark on this journey.”
“The reasons for the existence of piracy sites vary and so should the solutions.”
Banning piracy sites may have an impact, but for a country like South Africa – where broadband Internet access is not highly prevalent – piracy comes in other forms.
Site blocking may therefore not have as big an impact as it does in countries like Russia, it said.
“The fight against piracy should also be about showing how enjoyable legal and authentic means of consuming content can be, so that consumers see value in them and see no need to pirate movies.”