French Football League (LFP) and English Premier League are among the latest sports bodies to launch a campaign against Saudi Arabian pirate channel BeoutQ. The organisers of top division club football in their respective countries have moved European Commission, demanding immediate measures and support to shut down the channel.
The campaign against BeoutQ has intensified ever since FIFA announced that it is set to take legal action against the channel for illegally streaming the matches form World Cup 2018 in Russia. Since then a number global sports bodies and organisers of coveted events including UEFA, Formula 1, All England Lawn Tennis Club (Wimbledon), and United States Tennis Association (USTA) have echoed their concerns over the channel stealing the broadcast feeds.
The organisers of Ligue 1 have said that they had addressed a letter to the Directorate General for Trade at the European Commission, seeking support to investigate BeoutQ and demanding that pressure is placed on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to act upon and shut down the pirate channel.
The LFP has also written to Saudi-headquartered communications satellite operator Arabsat (Arab Satellite Communications Organization) to demand that it prevents BeoutQ from using its satellites to broadcast stolen content. In addition, the LFP said it is examining all legal options, recourse and remedies that are at its disposal.
Pay-television broadcaster beIN Sports is the key rights holder of the LFP and in May extended its Ligue 1 deal for the four seasons spanning 2020-21 to 2023-24. The broadcaster has also signed a rights deal, on the eve of 2018-19 season kick-off, for three seasons spanning 2019-20 to 2021-22 to air Premier League in MENA region.
Didier Quillot, LFP executive director, said in a statement, “Last January we participated in the creation of the Association for the Protection of Sporting Programs (APPS) with the broadcasters, the professional leagues and the sports’ federal bodies. Pirate broadcasts attack directly at the economic heart of the sport and we must unite in our struggle against this practice. We ask Arabsat and Saudi Arabia to intervene to stop the piracy of our contents.”
Premier League, in a statement reported by the Gulf Times newspaper, said: “The Premier League has written to the European Commission as part of the Sports Rights Owners Coalition. This is just one of the measures we are taking to address this very serious issue. We operate a significant anti-piracy programme in a range of countries to protect the copyright of the League and our clubs.
“Like all content creators and rights owners, our business model is predicated on the ability to market and sell protected rights and we will take all available action to support the investment made in the League by our legitimate broadcast partners.”
The claims come hours after BeIN Media Group have said that it has irrefutable evidence that Arabsat is backing a “plague of piracy” on world sport. Qatar’s BeIN, which operates beIN Sports, said three of the world’s leading digital security, media solutions and technology companies – Cisco Systems, NAGRA and Overon – have independently and definitively confirmed that the pirate television channel is being distributed on Arabsat platforms.
BeIN made its latest lengthy statement after reporting that its broadcasts of the Premier League and Ligue 1 commenced the 2018-19 season at the weekend by again being stolen and distributed illegally across Saudi Arabia.
BeIN said all 10 of the Premier League’s games starting with the 2018-19 season opener between Manchester United v Leicester City on Friday through to Manchester City v Arsenal on Sunday were illegally broadcast live by BeoutQ and Arabsat. Six of the 10 opening games of Ligue 1 were also stolen.
The Qatar-based channel further said that BeoutQ has also promoted the coverage of upcoming games it will show from the Spanish LaLiga and German Bundesliga, both of which start in the coming weeks, as a sign of its “endless pipeline of piracy”.
Arabsat last month denied of any wrongdoings and shunned the allegations of facilitating content broadcast by BeoutQ by providing a signal enabling the pirate channel to illegally transmit the broadcasts of beIN Sports. In a sheer brazenness, it had even demanded an apology from FIFA over its allegations that the satellite communications network was involved in the transmission of the World Cup pirated signals to BeoutQ.