Cable companies aren?t the only pay-TV operators to face problems with piracy. The DTH segment is up against it too, although for now the issue is being handled with discretion. Sky and DirecTV are vigorously combating the sale of pirate cards that enable users to receive DTH signals free of charge. The phenomenon was non-existent until recently because of the small number of users. Now that the two main DTH operators now have an aggregate subscriber base of more than 1.1 million, the pirates have evidently decided it?s worth investing. They have succeeded in cracking the encryption systems used by both Sky and DirecTV. Before the campaign against piracy began illegal cards for use with the operators? original IRDs cost some 800 reals (now about 285 US dollars). The cost has already fallen by about 12% and is expected to continue slipping as both Sky and DirecTV swap out cards and IRD software. This should prevent piracy for a time ? at least until someone invests in codebreaking again. Information on the numbers of pirate DTH viewers isn?t available but they?re clearly significant judging by the noticeable impact on customer care centers and other systems when cards are replaced. If the anti-piracy campaign is effective, the size of the DTH subscriber base is set to rise in the second quarter as installed IRDs hitherto operated with pirate cards are factored into the official statistics.