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21-02-2019 11:23:27

The Storm Around beoutQ

Tom Pammenter|Industry, News

Broadcast piracy: an issue ‘of paramount importance that warrants action by the United States and other governments’

Sky is among a number of broadcasters and sports bodies who are lobbying the US government as a result of the “boldest and most sophisticated pattern of broadcast piracy that the world has ever seen”.

Accused is beoutQ, the Saudi Arabian broadcast platform, which Sky describes as a “wholly parasitic rebranding of the Qatar-based beIN pay-TV platform and channels”.

 

The Priority Watch List

The Priority Watch List is part of the Special 301 Report which is prepared annually by the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) and lists countries whose intellectual property regimes are deemed to be of concern.

Sky is one of several leading organisations across both sports and broadcast who want action at the highest level and that Saudi Arabia be placed on the list.

Others organisations include:

  • Canal+
  • Miramax
  • beIN Media Group
  • Six US sports leagues

Other organisations seeking action include Fifa, Uefa and the Asian Football Confederation.

 

This problem runs deep…

This issue goes well beyond broadcasting: Qatar is locked in a regional power struggle with the Saudis, who are aligned with the UAE.

beoutQ emerged in 2017 after Saudi Arabia and its allies (who also include Bahrain and Egypt) launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar, which it accused of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies, saying the boycott seeks to curtail its sovereignty.

 

The beoutQ platform

  • Came to prominence in 2018 after illegally ripping every football World Cup game from beIN Media Group’s platform
  • Was initially restricted to Saudi Arabia but has later been accused of selling set-top boxes across the middle East and North Africa region
  • Channels are also available in Europe
  • beoutQ’s distribution, say Sky, has been enabled by the Saudi Arabian government-backed satellite operator ArabSat
  • Formula One and Grand Slam tennis tournaments have also been shown illegally
  • Output is widely available in Saudi Arabia
  • Lucrative sports content was initially targeted held but some broadcasters say the network has since expanded to include entertainment

 

The BBC – also involved

The BBC, like Sky, have written to the European Commission urging it to take formal action, which it is considering, after beoutQ was found to be giving UK viewers illegal access to shows including Bodyguard and Doctor Who.

 

But sport is the prime content

The Premier League say:

…and have also:

  • Appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to begin the process of bringing action against the parties involved in this piracy
  • Made representations through the Sports Rights Owners Coalition to the European Commission
  • Made the UK Government aware of the problem
  • With FIFA, UEFA, the Asian Football Confederation, La Liga (Spain) and the Bundesliga (Germany) issued a joint statement condemning beoutQ:

The Asian Cup

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) is the latest organisation to highlight ‘intellectual Property theft’ by beoutQ.

After beoutQ illegally broadcast January’s Asian Cup, the AFC said it’ll “strengthen its stance against IP theft” and “engage market leaders in this field with a view to further combating the escalating risk”.

 

BeIN

“BeoutQ has continued to operate its pirate operation in Saudi Arabia with the full knowledge of the Saudi government,” BeIN said in a statement.

“The Saudi government offers a ‘safe haven’ for piracy that has now spread across Europe and the US.”

Riyadh denies beoutQ is based in the country and has repeatedly stated that Saudi authorities are committed to fighting piracy.

 

Website launched

BeIN, meanwhile, have launched a website to disclose a “mass dossier of evidence against the Saudi Arabia-supported piracy operation that has stolen the commercial rights of sports and entertainment brands for 18 months”.

“The website, beoutq.tv,” BeIN says, “places out in the open the mountain of evidence against beoutQ, and will be regularly updated as legal actions against Saudi Arabia continue to mount, so that the pirate operation is held to account.

“The website includes materials on where beoutQ is based, who is behind it, and – most shockingly – sets out in detail all the commercial rights that have been stolen from organisations across the world of sport and entertainment since beoutQ first appeared.”

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