BeIN calls on Saudi government to show red card to pirate channel beoutQ
By Simon Ward
BeIN Media Group, the international sports broadcaster, has today appealed to the government of Saudi Arabia to shut down a pirate channel based in the country called beoutQ, which is offering content for which BeIN holds exclusive rights.
Doha-based BeIN, which operates BeIN Sports channels in the Middle East and various other markets, has secured the support of prominent rights-holders in Uefa, the governing body for European soccer, and Spanish soccer’s top-tier LaLiga, plus the Audiovisual Anti-Piracy Alliance, in its campaign against the service.
beoutQ is understood to have emerged two weeks ago and, following initial steps to have it blocked, reappeared in recent days, with coverage having included a live match featuring Real Madrid.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, BeIN said: “beIN MEDIA GROUP has notified the Saudi authorities of this unlawful use of its content and has requested that the Saudi Government take immediate action to investigate and prevent the unauthorised use of beIN’s media content by 'beoutQ' or any other unauthorised channels in Saudi Arabia.
“beIN MEDIA GROUP holds the exclusive rights to broadcast prestigious major leagues, tournaments and events in the MENA region, which is testament to the strength of its long-standing relationships with major rights holders, as well as the quality of its coverage.
“Any attempt to broadcast beIN SPORTS’ media content without permission is both unacceptable and unlawful in all jurisdictions. beIN MEDIA GROUP's legal team is investigating the pirated IPTV broadcast of its channels and exploring all legal remedies available.”
BeIN holds rights in the Middle East and North Africa to top soccer leagues including LaLiga, England’s Premier League and Germany’s Bundesliga, and only last month retained exclusive rights to the Uefa Champions League and Europa League for the next cycle, running from 2018-19 to 2020-21.
The appearance of beoutQ comes against the backdrop of a political row in which various Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have cut diplomatic relations with Qatar over alleged support for terrorism in the region.
The accusations have been vehemently denied, with Qatar describing the actions as “unjustified” and “based on baseless and unfounded allegations.”
BeIN Sports channels disappeared from the Du and Etisalat platforms in the UAE in June, only to return last month.
Defending the broadcaster’s latest action, Yousef Al-Obaidly, the deputy chief executive of BeIN, said: “beIN MEDIA GROUP has been made aware of the unauthorised, pirated broadcast of our channels’ content in Saudi Arabia. The broadcast by ‘beoutQ’ contravenes both Saudi and international law on intellectual property rights.
“We hope that the Saudi authorities will honour Saudi domestic laws, and Saudi Arabia’s international legal obligations, including those under the TRIPS Agreement, to protect and enforce our intellectual property rights to the full extent. We are pursuing all available legal options to ensure our and our rights holders' intellectual property rights are respected. We are committed to providing all of our customers with the highest quality access to the latest and greatest global sporting events.”
Guy-Laurent Epstein, the marketing director of Uefa, said: “UEFA fully supports the beIN MEDIA GROUP in taking action against illegal streaming in all relevant territories including MENA in order to stop piracy and the infringement of UEFA’s intellectual property.”
LaLiga has been at the forefront of efforts by leagues to prevent unauthorised broadcasts and streaming of matches and its director of audiovisual Melcior Soler said: “LaLiga actively works against piracy of LaLiga content worldwide and fully supports our rights holders in fighting against illegal broadcast in their territories. We shall assist beIN MEDIA GROUP, our exclusive rights holder in the MENA territories, to avoid the unauthorised broadcast of LaLiga matches by www.beoutQ."
There is also backing from Sheila Cassells, the executive director of the AAPA, who said: “As a valued member of our alliance, we were shocked to hear from beIN about this illegitimate broadcast of the company’s legal content in Saudi Arabia.
“We urge the authorities there to be strident and expeditious in upholding both international norms on intellectual property, and also Saudi Arabia’s own law, which this directly contravenes. beIN MEDIA GROUP is a trusted partner to dozens of sporting organisations around the world thanks to its long-standing relationships and the quality of its coverage. We stand with them in condemnation of this pirate broadcaster.”