By Noel Randewich
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A cable operator belonging to Mexico's largest television network has won a legal case to stop the sale of Roku video streaming devices in the country on the grounds that the gadgets are often hacked to let users view pirated channels.
Cablevision, a cable TV provider owned by Televisa, said a Mexico City tribunal on Wednesday upheld a previous order to suspend the importation and distribution of the devices.
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"Cablevision cannot allow the content that it licenses from domestic and foreign companies to be illegally used," Cablevision spokeswoman Maria Eugenia Zurita told Reuters via email. "We would also like Roku Inc to better supervise the use of its software so that it's not used inappropriately."
Connected to televisions, Roku devices provide access to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Starz and other services over the Internet. They and similar products are a major part of a consumer trend away from cable television in recent years.
Los Gatos, California-based Roku disagrees with Wednesday's court ruling and will continue legal efforts to ensure it is able to distribute its products in Mexico, General Counsel Steve Kay said in a statement.
"Today's decision is not the final word in this complex legal matter, and it is not expected to prevent consumers from purchasing Roku products in Mexico at this time," Kay said.
Hackers in Mexico use messaging app WhatsApp to offer Roku owners illegal access to monthly packages of hundreds of television channels, including Televisa's, HBO, ESPN and others.
In some cases, customers make cash transfers at convenience stores and then send the hackers photos of their receipts.
A judge last week issued a court order requested by Cablevision to stop the importation and sale of the Roku devices, but Roku then won a suspension. Wednesday's decision overturned that suspension.
Following the latest ruling, Roku devices on Thursday were available for purchase on the Mexican websites of Amazon.com, Best Buy and Wal Mart de Mexico.
Roku accounted for nearly half of all over-the-top streaming devices in the United States last year, according to market research firm comScore.
(Reporting by Noel Randewich; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)