FIFA threatens to take action against Saudi TV station
June 15 2018 07:24 PM

By Anthony Harwood/London Correspondent

*Global football body cracks down on piracy
*Arabsat illegally broadcasting beIN World Cup feed

FIFA on Friday launched a clampdown on piracy, threatening to take action against a Saudi TV station which has been illegally broadcasting the opening games of the World Cup.
Football’s governing body released a statement after the Riyadh-based station, Arabsat, in which Saudi Arabia is the largest shareholder, ignored warnings to stop its broadcast of the first two matches.
FIFA intervened after complaints by the Qatar-based channel, beIN Sports, which has bought exclusive rights to the World Cup across the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia stopped trading with Qatar last June when it launched a diplomatic and transport boycott accusing it of cosying up to Iran and supporting terrorism, which Doha denies.
The piracy operation involves Arabsat allegedly stealing the beIN World Cup satellite feed and superimposing a ‘BeoutQ’ logo on top of the beIN one.
In its statement on Friday FIFA said: ‘FIFA is aware that a pirate channel named BeoutQ has illegally distributed the opening matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region.
“FIFA takes infringements of its intellectual property very seriously and is exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organisations that are seen to support such illegal activities.
‘We refute that BeoutQ has received any rights from FIFA to broadcast any FIFA event’.
The statement came a day after beIN announced it was broadcasting 22 World Cup matches for free across the Mena region as millions faced missing out.
After it launched its blockade on Qatar last year Saudi Arabia banned the sale of beIN broadcast boxes and stopped existing customers from renewing subscriptions.
Instead the content of Premier League matches, Champions League, FA Cup Final and now the World Cup, became available via a pirated feed on a channel called BeoutQ.
BeoutQ broadcasts exactly the same transmission as beIN, with the same studio pundits, only with a ten-second delay and new logo.
BeoutQ claims to be a Colombian and Cuban venture but investigations have shown it to be linked to Saudi companies and promoted by Saud al-Qahtani, Media Adviser to the Saudi Royal Court.
Tom Keaveny, beIN Managing Director for Mena, said: ‘The pirated signal is being transmitted by the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat, whose largest shareholder is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’.
He added that the beoutQ operation ‘takes industrial scale knowledge and ability and multi million dollar funding. This isn’t someone in their bedroom’.

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