NewsCorp-owned technology group NDS Group has rejected as “outrageous and baseless” accusations that it helped pirate the TV smart cards of Vivendi Universal’s Canal Plus Group.

As reported Tuesday [WAMN: 12-Feb-02], Canal Plus has filed a billion-dollar lawsuit claiming that NDS set out to crack the software code protecting its devices – the cards that allow secure reception of pay-TV broadcasts – and published the results on the internet, prompting a flood of counterfeits.

UK-headquartered NDS responded by announcing it is preparing a countersuit against Canal Plus. Chief executive Abe Peled insisted that counterfeit cards were “due solely to the inferior nature” of Canal’s technology.

“The clear evidence,” he argued, “is that the pirate community targeted Canal Plus early in 1998 and succeeded without any help from anyone, particularly NDS.”

One of Canal’s customers, ailing UK pay-TV operator ITV Digital, is contemplating joining the lawsuit against NDS, as around 100,000 Britons are estimated to be watching its programming via counterfeit cards. The row is made all the more interesting by the fact that NDS is 79%-owned by NewsCorp, which also controls ITV Digital’s chief rival BSkyB.

Data sourced from: The Times (London); additional content by WARC staff