Doha-based Qatar’s beIN Media Group Monday urged football’s governing body FIFA to take legal action against what it called pirate broadcasters in Saudi Arabia ahead of the World Cup.
“We have requested FIFA to take direct legal action against Arabsat and the indications we have shown that they are behind that,” general counsel of beIN Sophie Jordan told French press agency AFP.
BeIN has the rights to broadcast all 64 matches from Russia across the Middle East and North Africa region, but is suffering from a boycott in a number of Arab countries as part of a wider boycott against Qatar.
According to the Qatar media group, Arabsat facilitates satellite broadcasts by the notorious Saudi-based piracy network, cynically known as “beoutQ”.
Since October 2017, the beoutQ pirates have been selling subscriptions to ten satellite channels carrying premium live sports content stolen from beIN and other broadcasters. beoutQ set-top boxes are being openly sold in retail outlets across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other countries, and the packaging and promotional materials for the set-top boxes explicitly advertise the availability of pirated premium sports content.
Since February 2018, the beoutQ pirates have gone even further, by distributing an illegal IPTV app which provides access to hundreds of pirated channels from around the world. The content includes, not only beIN channels, but other major global channels, covering sports, Hollywood movies, television shows, and other entertainment content.
“This is a very serious development for all content owners in the MENA region, since it is leading to a high penetration and awareness of pirated IPTV services, which are a huge threat to our industry,” said BeIN.
BeIN as well as several rights holders have written to Arabsat on numerous occasions, providing evidence that beoutQ is using Arabsat frequencies, and asking it to take down the beoutQ channels. Arabsat has refused this request and simply denies liability.