French court fails to find ‘clear and illegal disruption’ in Arabsat case

A recent French court ruling that regional satellite provider Arabsat is a signal carrier for pirate broadcaster beoutQ also stated that claimant, Qatar-based beIN Media, failed to show evidence of “clear and illegal disruption” as a result of that activity.

BeIN told SportBusiness Media on Tuesday, however, that the main goal of its litigation was to establish legally that Arabsat carries beoutQ’s signals after the satellite provider’s previous denials.

The court, which made its ruling last Thursday, said that beIN had not proved there was “immediate risk of commercial damage” that could justify compelling Arabsat to block beoutQ’s signals in France.

BeIN was ordered to pay €25,000 euros to Arabsat and €6,000 to an Arabsat adviser.

Arabsat said the court’s judgment “refutes all false accusations that Qatar’s beIN Sports group tried to pin on Arabsat to cover its technical failure to address media piracy”.

However, beIN told SportBusiness Media that the court’s ruling on Arabset’s distribution of beoutQ set an important legal precedent.

It said: “The single and sole purpose of this case was to have an independent court of law confirm that Arabsat carries beoutQ – this was confirmed clearly and beyond any doubt whatsoever.”

BeIN said it initiated legal proceedings in France because it had been “unlawfully denied any legal recourse in Saudi Arabia where the pirate operation is based.”

BeoutQ’s activities have already forced beIN to lay off nearly a fifth of its Qatar-based staff, the company confirmed to SportBusiness Media.

“We have taken some difficult decisions to right-size our Mena business, but these decisions will secure our business for the future – we are not going anywhere,” it said.

A consortium of major rights-holders plans to launch legal action in the Saudi courts against beoutQ, which the rights-holders believe is backed by the Saudi government.

BeoutQ has also been pirating the ongoing Fifa Women’s World Cup, taking place in France. Fifa, which is part of the consortium, said last weekend, it is “seeking the cooperation” of Arabsat to prevent further unauthorised broadcasts of the competition by beoutQ.