BBC, Sky seek European Union action in BeoutQ piracy case

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The BBC and Sky, highlighting the ‘threat’ from pirated content broadcast by BeoutQ, have called on the European commission to initiate action against Saudi Arabia for BeoutQ content piracy. The Saudi State is accused of shielding the 10-channel BeoutQ network.

Saudi Arabia in the past has been accused of shielding the pirate TV and streaming service, which is providing viewers in the UK with illegal access to content. Premier League football, The Bodyguard and Game of Thrones are among the precious broadcast content illegally streamed and aired by BeoutQ.

The British public broadcaster and the pay-TV major in their complaint to the European Commission for trade, Anna Malmström, have highlighted the negative impact pirate channels could have on the broadcast rights business.

In the separate letters, Sky has mentioned that “it ‘(Sky) understands that (the directorate general of trade) is planning imminently to launch a démarche towards the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia authorities regarding the issue. The purpose of this letter is to confirm Sky’s full support for that démarche”.

The BCCI letter has raised concern that the broadcast of pirated content in the long run will affect finances of the legitimate media rights and property owners. “The availability of the BBC channels and content via BeoutQ’s pirate activity will adversely impact BBC Studios’ ability to license these channels to partners throughout Europe and also the ability of our European partners to sell subscriptions to their television services,” the letter said.

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Content of both the letters is published by a section of British media. “The BBC group is committed to combating piracy of its channels and content worldwide and actively work with our media partners in fighting against piracy operating in the terrain which our partners hold exclusive licences,” a BBC spokesperson has said.

The BeoutQ service is transmitted internationally on 10 channels by the Saudi-headquartered satellite firm Arabsat, which counts the Saudi state as its largest shareholder, and also offers streaming. The BeoutQ, which has started as a geo-blocked regional website, now has emerged as the largest pirated network with its illegal set boxes availaible in the UK and other European nations.

BeoutQ had come into the spotlight during the recent Fifa World Cup, when the service illegally showed the entire tournament without the rights to do so. It has also pirated coverage of the Uefa Champions League, the Premier League, Formula One, global tennis tournaments and various other flagship sports properties.

A number of sporting organisations have since publicly condemned the service, with the Premier League opening legal proceedings in Saudi Arabia against BeoutQ.

Also Read: BeoutQ Piracy row: beIN Media files $1 bn lawsuit against Saudi Arabia