By Samindra Kunti and Paul Nicholson
January 22 – FIFA, UEFA, AFC, La Liga, the Premier League and the Bundesliga have today issued a joint statement condemning “clear and flagrant” pirating of games by satellite channel beoutQ, but refrained from naming Saudi Arabia as culpable for the infringements though the channel broadcasts from the country.
The pirate broadcaster beoutQ has its genesis in the regional dispute between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, with Saudi Arabia having initially banned beIN Sport which holds the bulk of premium and football sports rights for the region.
beoutQ is currently pirating every game from the on-going 2019 Asian Cup in the UAE, including the four Saudi Arabian games. Saudi were eliminated at the last 16 stage yesterday by Japan.
The Saudis have increasingly become alienated in the international broadcast arena as the 2017-launched beoutQ channel infringes a wide range of BeIN Sports broadcasts and is becoming increasingly available via IPTV worldwide, undermining the whole TV sports broadcast model.
Neither beoutQ nor Saudi Arabia have shown any significant concern over the threats from sports rights governing bodies or their media partners to date but have continued to steal the content.
“Collectively, we, as rights-holders in various football competitions, condemn the pirate entity beoutQ, which continues to abuse the operations of rights holders and legitimate broadcasters through its persistent and illegal screening of events for which it has made no effort to secure the rights; the latest example of which is the AFC Asian Cup UAE 2019,” read the statement.
“The activities of beoutQ are a clear and flagrant breach of our intellectual property rights. beoutQ’s piracy harms not only us, as rights holders, but also our legitimate licensees and, ultimately, the fans of our competitions. Money raised from the sale of TV rights helps us to support the participants, as well as to develop and grow the sports of which we are guardians from the grassroots up. Piracy kills that investment.
“We will work closely with partners and relevant authorities to enforce and uphold our intellectual property rights and put an end to this widespread piracy issue for everyone’s benefit.”
The statement says the relevant stakeholders will up their campaign in the near future by enforcing the law to protect their IP rights – though which law and where, and even whether the Saudis will pay any attention seems to be the real issue.
To date they have baulked at any adherence to international copyright conventions which have emboldened other broadcasters to pirate content. Lebanese state broadcaster Tele Liban aired the Lebanese games from the Asian Cup by pirating the broadcast signal having failed to agree a license fee with Lagardere Sport.
BeIN Sports has said previously that beoutQ has grown to become “the most sophisticated piracy operation that the world has ever seen” with ten encrypted channels illegally broadcasting content stolen.
Last year the World Trade Organisation, the WTO, approved the creation of a WTO panel to adjudicate the case, even though Saudi Arabia and Qatar no longer have any diplomatic relations. BeIN Sports and the Qatari government launched an international investment arbitration claiming over $1 billion in damages from Saudi Arabia.
Last week, as Saudi Arabia staged the Italian Super Cup, the BeIN Media Group launched a website to expose what it describes as “the industrial scale theft” by BeoutQ. The website, https://beoutq.tv, sets out what the BeIN Media Group says is a “mountain of evidence” against the pirate outfit.
Contact the writers of this story, Samindra Kunti and Paul Nicholson, at firstname.lastname@example.org