Backgrounder (sf05761)

Interference to Public Safety Radiocommunication Systems from Pirate Devices used in Direct–to–Home (DTH) Satellite Equipment

The Department of Industry has received several complaints of interference to public safety radiocommunication services across Canada.

The Department has made investigations at known interference sites and has conducted laboratory tests of suspect equipment. These analyses have demonstrated that certain devices used to defeat conditional access systems of DTH broadcast satellite receivers will, when used in conjunction with such receivers, cause the emission of radio frequency signals of sufficient strength that interference is caused or is likely to be caused to radiocommunication, including that used for law enforcement and search and rescue. For example, these excessive emissions have interfered with the communications of law enforcement agencies and emergency response teams.

All television receivers and appliances, including satellite television decoders, must meet applicable technical standards that limit the emission levels of radiated signals that could cause interference.

Pirate cards are manufactured or imported in an underground black market. Manufacturers or importers typically do not test these devices to determine whether or not they conform to the applicable technical standards.

Generic AVR pirate cards substitute the legitimate smart card used in satellite television receivers in order to receive satellite television programming without payment of subscription fees. The cards are typically in the form of a circuit board, a portion of which remains outside the receiver card slot because it has one or more computer chips on the card. They may also have a connector for a computer cable to connect the AVR card to a personal computer and they may include a separate slot for the legitimate smart card.

Both Bell ExpressVu and Star Choice receivers were found not to cause interfering signals when used in an legitimate manner by a subscriber.

Apart from the interference issue, it should also be noted that in any case unauthorized decoding is prohibited under the Radiocommunication Act.

The following photos are examples of typical AVR cards. AVR cards that are named on the "List of Models of Equipment Subject to a Determination of Interference" may look slightly different and have different componants.


photograph of an AVR3 card

photograph of an AVR3 card


photograph of an AVR6 card

photograph of an AVR6 card