LFP and Premier League take BeoutQ case to European Commission

The campaign against pirate channel BeoutQ has intensified with the French Football League (LFP) and English Premier League stating they have escalated a complaint over the matter to the European Commission.

The LFP, which operates Ligue 1, the top division of French football, said it has addressed a letter to the Directorate General for Trade at the EC seeking support to investigate BeoutQ and demanding that pressure be placed on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to act upon and shut down the pirate channel.

The LFP has also written to Saudi-headquartered communications satellite operator Arabsat to demand that it prevents BeoutQ from using its satellites to broadcast stolen content. In addition, the LFP said it is examining all legal options, recourse and remedies that are at its disposal.

Pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports is a key rights partner of the LFP and in May extended its domestic Ligue 1 deal for the four campaigns spanning 2020-21 to 2023-24.

Didier Quillot, LFP executive director, said in a statement: “Last January we participated in the creation of the Association for the Protection of Sporting Programs (APPS) with the broadcasters, the professional leagues and the sports’ federal bodies. Pirate broadcasts attack directly at the economic heart of the sport and we must unite in our struggle against this practice. We ask Arabsat and Saudi Arabia to intervene to stop the piracy of our contents”

The latest development comes after BeIN Media Group yesterday (Thursday) stated it has undeniable evidence that Arabsat is backing a “plague of piracy” on world sport. Qatar’s BeIN, which operates beIN Sports, 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 made its latest lengthy statement after reporting that its broadcasts of the Premier League and 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.

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.

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.

In a statement reported by the Gulf Times newspaper, the Premier League said: “The Premier League has written to the European Commission as part of the Sports Rights Owners Coalition. This is just one of the measures we are taking to address this very serious issue. We operate a significant anti-piracy programme in a range of countries to protect the copyright of the League and our clubs.

“Like all content creators and rights owners, our business model is predicated on the ability to market and sell protected rights and we will take all available action to support the investment made in the League by our legitimate broadcast partners.”