Arabsat hits back at rights-holders in beoutQ dispute

Satellite operator Arabsat has branded comments made by a group of major rights-holders as “irresponsible” and “disgraceful” about its alleged role in the Saudi Arabian pirate channel beoutQ dispute.

Arabsat was responding to a report published earlier this week, commissioned by eight major rights-holders and produced by industry body Mark Monitor, which claimed it was facilitating beoutQ’s pirate stream.

The satellite operator said in a statement on Thursday: “Arabsat, while rejecting the allegations made against it, deeply regrets irresponsible statements made by Fifa and other federations which contain disgraceful repetitions of the [Qatar-based pay-television broadcaster] beIN network’s claims.

BeIN has seen widespread piracy of its content by beoutQ.

It continued: “Arabsat warns against inaccurate media statements and reports in the face of final court rulings. Based on its belief in the rule of law, Arabsat will not engage in any media war with any entity regarding this subject.”

The eight rights-holders said their report proved beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts have been transmitted using Arabsat’s satellite infrastructure. The rights-holders are football’s world governing body Fifa; European football’s governing body Uefa; Asian football’s governing body AFC; and five of European football’s top leagues (England’s Premier League, Spain’s LaLiga, Italy’s Serie A, Germany’s Bundesliga and France’s Ligue 1).

Arabsat’s response followed an appeal ruling in a French court it said was made earlier this week that upheld a previous beoutQ-related decision in favour of Arabsat, although the June ruling accepted that the pirate channel was available on Arabsat’s signal.

The appeal was brought by beIN, according to Arabsat’s statement. BeIN denied that any appeal case was heard.

The rights-holders group had tried to bring a case directly against beoutQ in Saudi Arabia, though they conceded in late July this would be impossible with no law firm in the nation willing to take the case.

Arabsat has consistently denied allegations of facilitating beoutQ’s pirated content.