October 23 – The sports rights geo-political battle being waged in the middle east between Qatari broadcaster beIN Sport and Saudi Arabian-supported channels and broadcast rights interests, has taken a new twist.
beIN has won a court battle in France preventing French sports rights agency Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) – organisers of the Dakar Rally, Tour de France, Paris Marathon – from breaking its five year media rights agreement with beIN SPORTS.
The Qatari broadcaster claimed that ASO’s was under political pressure to break the exclusive deal and hand the media rights to a Saudi Arabian broadcaster.
Earlier this year, ASO moved the venue of the Dakar Rally from South America to
Saudi Arabia from 2020 onwards. ASO then tried to break its licensing agreement with beIN so it could re-license in Saudi (where beIN is banned from broadcasting).
ASO put further pressure on the beIN deal by refusing to provide beIN with the satellite feeds to its events, for which beIN was the official and exclusive broadcast partner.
The President of the Nanterre Commercial Court issued an interim order in favor of beIN ordering ASO to “continue the performance of the contract in all its stipulations”. The court also ordered ASO to pay a €10,000 penalty for every day that ASO refused to give beIN the satellite feeds, technical and operational information to allow broadcast transmission.
Caroline Guenneteau, Head of Legal of beIN SPORTS France said: “We are pleased that the rule of law has prevailed and that commercial contracts cannot be torn up by undue interference. This series of events gives an indication of the Saudi’s new strategy while its beoutQ transmissions remain down over satellite; namely, to illegally force its way into sports broadcasting through undue political and commercial influence. However, this French ruling sends a clear message that the pressuring of commercial partners to illegally break contracts will not be tolerated. beIN will relentlessly defend its commercial interests using the full force of the law.”
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