Saudi Arabia has banned beIN Sports, which is the legitimate holder of various TV broadcasting rights to transmit over the Middle East.
Saudi Arabia has cancelled beIN Media’s licence to operate which – in effect – means the only way viewers in the Kingdom can watch beIN Sports transmissions is via the widely condemned beoutQ piracy operation. Saudi Arabia says that beIN is abusing its dominant position in sports coverage.
Saudi Arabia has in addition ‘fined’ beIN Sports $2 million and demanded that the Qatar-based beIN Media Group “return all profits” made as a result of its “violations”.
beIN Sports responded speedily to the Saudi ruling: “We vehemently disagree with the Saudi Arabian competition authority’s decision which is manifestly politically motivated. beIN is being attacked by the Saudi authorities for doing exactly what sports and entertainment broadcasters around the world do, and indeed what other broadcasters active in the Saudi market also do.”
beIN SPORTS’ response added: “The decision would require beIN to meet conditions that no broadcaster anywhere in the world is required to meet. This is simply another illegitimate attempt by Saudi Arabia to drive beIN’s highly successful business from the country, putting politics ahead of the interests of Saudi consumers. It also sends a deeply troubling message to the international business community about the arbitrary conditions of commerce and lack of the rule of law in Saudi Arabia. We are considering all legal options.”
The Saudi ruling is the latest chapter in an increasingly bitter diplomatic dispute between the Kingdom and Qatar, and which has involved Arabsat as the transmission source for the piracy of signals from beoutQ.
By Chris Forrester of Advanced Television