Saudi Arabia has been called on to take action to prevent the illegal broadcasting internationally of foot ball matches by a sophisticated, homegrown pirate TV and streaming service in the country. This appeal to the Middle Eastern country was made by some of the largest football authorities and associations of the world including the body that organizes and runs the English Premier League, the World Cup and the Champions League.
The names of the sports bodies that have reached out to the Saudi Arabian government include the likes of Fifa, Uefa, Germany’s Bundesliga, Spain’s La Liga and Italy’s Serie A as well as the Asian Football Confederation. The exasperated football associations and bodies have sent a strongly worded letter to the Saudi authorities after a period of almost 18 months when these bodies tried to counter the illegal broadcasting and stopping the service through legal ways in Saudi Arabia but have been unsuccessful. The targeted broadcaster is called BeoutQ.
“We collectively condemn in the strongest possible terms the ongoing theft of our intellectual property by the pirate broadcaster known as BeoutQ and call on the authorities in Saudi Arabia to support us in ending the widespread and flagrant breaches of our intellectual property rights,” the authorities said in a joint statement.
There were nine legal firms in Saudi Arabia that were approached but all did not manage to take on their copyright theft case, the sporting bodies have said in the letter. They have also said that this has now forced them to look out for other ways to stop the broadcasting and to bring down the shutters on the illegal broadcaster.
“We have reached the conclusion, regrettably, that it is now not possible to retain legal counsel in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia which is willing or able to act on our behalf,” the statement continued. “We see no alternative but to pursue BeoutQ and a solution to this very serious problem of piracy by other means. We request that the Saudi Ministry of Culture and the Saudi government take swift and decisive action against BeoutQ.”
The illegal service was noticed globally after it privately broadcast the entire 2018 World Cup and thereby saw a huge increase in its popularity. The broadcasting company BeoutQ was also condemned by the All-England Lawn Tennis Club earlier this month after it conducted worldwide broadcasting of the Wimbledon illegally for a second year in a row. Issues about the piracy of their programming have also been earlier raised by the BBC and Sky.
The Saudi-headquartered satellite firm Arabsat transmits internationally the service of the BeoutQ service on 10 channels. The Saudi state is one of the largest shareholders of Arabsat. Private streaming is also being done by BeoutQ.
In 2017, at a time when an economic boycott on Qatar was mounted by Saudi Arabia, this private service was started. The service initially pirated and illegally broadcast the feed of Qatar’s BeIN Media Group which owns BeIN Sports and film studio Miramax.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)