In a new measure aimed at thwarting piracy, DirecTV has started shipping receivers without access cards to a number of mass merchant and warehouse clubs.
In the past, mass merchants have obtained large quantities of DirecTV receivers containing security access cards, and typically offered them for sale inexpensively under a variety of DirecTV new subscriber programs. However, the satellite provider said that, in some cases, signal pirates were acquiring large numbers of receivers to get at the cards, which would later be modified to steal programming and sold illicitly on the streets.
According to a DirecTV spokesperson, in some cases brazen thieves have been videotaped on shop floors slicing open DirecTV receiver boxes to take the security cards.
To combat the problem, DirecTV recently began the "Access Card Outside of the Box" program, which requires new DirecTV subscribers who have purchased an IRD at a participating mass merchant to call a toll-free number to order an access card before they can receive service. DirecTV said the cards arrive within three days, after the customer has passed a credit approval process or has provided a valid service address, social security number or credit card.
Customers are then required to activate a Total Choice programming package of $31.99 or more within 30 days or their credit cards will be charged an additional $150.
DirecTV said Wal-Mart, Kmart, BJ's and Shopko stores, among others, have willingly agreed to participate in the program. Blockbuster and electronic superstores with tight inventory control programs are not included.