Thursday, July 19, 2018
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Qatar's beIN calls Saudi to shut down pirate channel

BeIN Media Group demands "beout Q" to stop its activities immediately, adding that it is exploring all legal options.

BeIN Sports

A Qatari-owned sports and entertainment broadcaster has called on authorities in Saudi Arabia to close a pirate channel that is airing its content illegally.

BeIN Media Group said in a statement on Thursday that Saudi's "beout Q" uses its platforms to broadcast beIN Sports' propriety content in the kingdom.

The group said it had notified authorities of what it terms unlawful action and demanded an immediate investigation.

"We hope that the Saudi authorities will honour Saudi domestic laws, and Saudi Arabia's international legal obligations," said Yousef al-Obaidly, deputy chief executive officer at beIN Media Group.

"We are pursuing all available legal options to ensure our and our rights holders' intellectual property rights are respected," he added.

"We are committed to providing all of our customers with the highest quality access to the latest and greatest global sporting events."

It was unclear whether Saudi authorities had responded to the media organisation's requests. No Saudi official could be reached for a comment

Gulf Times, a Doha-based newspaper, reported on Thursday that "the sports and entertainment network has joined forces with some of the world's biggest rights holders, including UEFA and La Liga, as well as an anti-piracy body, the Audio visual Anti-Piracy Alliance (AAPA), to call for 'beout Q' to cease all of its operations immediately".

It is still unclear who is behind the website and whether it can provide the services it promises to do or not.

A beIN official in Qatar's capital, Doha, said on condition of anonymity, because he is not authorised to speak to the media, that efforts are under way to identify and hold those responsible accountable.

BeIN Media Group holds the exclusive rights to broadcast European and international championship tournaments to the Middle and North Africa region.

On June 5. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt severed their diplomatic and economic ties with Qatar and imposed a land, air and sea blockade against it. The move prompted broadcast carriers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia to block beIN broadcast in their countries.

On July 22, however, UAE carriers Etisalat and Du restored their broadcast and contractual relationship with beIN before the start of sports tournaments in some European countries.

BeIN said that its operations in Egypt and Bahrain have not been affected by the blockade against Qatar.

Meawnile, the beIN official said that the UAE carriers are in negotiations with the Qatar-based group in an attempt to recoup their losses due to the suspension of their services to their subscribers in the country.

"They are invoking a force majeure clause in the contract by claiming that they had no choice but to end their relationship with us in deference to the political leadership in their country," he said.

BeIN claims that it bears no responsibility, saying that it has kept its obligations and that it was the UAE carriers which opted to stop taking the Qatari group's signal.

Etisalat and Du claim to have lost between $5-10m during the period of the suspension.

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