BeIN claims “irrefutable” evidence of Arabsat backing for BeoutQ

BeIN Media Group has stepped up its campaign against BeoutQ by stating it has undeniable evidence that Saudi-headquartered communications satellite operator Arabsat is backing a “plague of piracy” on world sport.

Qatar’s BeIN, which operates pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports, has today (Thursday) said three of the world’s leading digital security, media solutions and technology companies – Cisco Systems, NAGRA and Overon – have independently and definitively confirmed that the pirate television channel is being distributed on Arabsat platforms.

BeIN has made its latest lengthy statement after reporting that its broadcasts of football’s English Premier League and France’s Ligue 1 commenced the 2018-19 season at the weekend by again being stolen and distributed illegally across Saudi Arabia.

Starting with the Premier League’s curtain-raiser of Manchester United v Leicester City on Friday through to Manchester City v Arsenal on Sunday, beIN said all 10 of the Premier League’s games were illegally broadcast live by BeoutQ and Arabsat; while six of the 10 opening games of Ligue 1 were also stolen.

BeIN said BeoutQ also “brazenly promoted” coverage of upcoming games it will show from the Spanish LaLiga and German Bundesliga, both of which start in the coming weeks, as a sign of its “endless pipeline of piracy”.

Arabsat last month denied that it is facilitating content broadcast by BeoutQ. Arabsat has widely been linked to providing a signal enabling BeoutQ to illegally transmit the broadcasts of beIN Sports.

Arabsat said it had informed world football’s governing body Fifa that an investigation conducted by seven independent satellite communications experts confirmed its satellite frequencies were not, and have not been used, by BeoutQ for illegal broadcasts of 2018 Fifa World Cup matches.

Earlier, Fifa said that it had “engaged counsel to take legal action in Saudi Arabia and is working alongside other sports-rights owners that have also been affected to protect its interest”. The Saudi Ministry of Media said that Fifa’s move would “supplement the relentless efforts by the KSA Ministry of Commerce and Investment in combating BeoutQ’s activities”.

On the eve of the 2018-19 Premier League season, beIN Sports last week struck a three-season extension to its rights deal in the Middle East and North Africa region for the competition covering the 2019-20 to 2021-22 campaigns.

Tom Keaveny, managing director of beIN Media Group in the Mena region, said today: “The political games being played by Arabsat, BeoutQ and its Saudi backers in stealing our content have consequences that affect the future of world sport, not just beIN Sports.

“That is why the international sports community – from Fifa to Uefa, Formula One to world tennis, together with a host of other global broadcasters – have all taken a stand and publicly condemned this Saudi-based piracy. BeoutQ and its Saudi backers seem to think they can operate beyond the reproach of the rule of law and the international norms that everyone else respects.”

Sophie Jordan, executive director of legal affairs and general legal counsel of beIN Media Group, added: “The evidence is irrefutable:- the illegal channel BeoutQ is backed by Saudi nationals and openly promoted by leading Saudi figures; it is operating with the tacit consent of the Saudi government and its World Cup pirate feeds were viewed on public screens under the responsibility of Saudi authorities across the country; it is broadcast on the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat; on a daily basis it is carrying out – in broad daylight – a mass-scale theft of highly valuable intellectual property rights.

“It is time for Arabsat to switch off the pirate transmissions it has supported for almost a year; it is time for Arabsat to be made accountable for facilitating the largest pay-tv piracy organisation in the history of pay-tv.”