beIN Sports accuses Arabsat

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The controversy over which satellite is illegally beaming out pirated signals deepened with a statement August 16th from Qatar-based beIN Sports. The broadcaster accuses beoutQ and Arabsat as facilitating blatant sports piracy “on an industrial scale”.

beIN says that independent examinations by three of the world’s “leading digital security, media solutions and technology companies” have “confirmed the signals as coming from Arabsat”.

beIN says that it used Cisco Systems, NAGRA and Overon to investigate the sources of the pirated signals, which independently identified Arabsat as the source of the transmissions. “This technical evidence establishes beyond any doubt the involvement of Riyadh-based Arabsat in the most widespread piracy of sports broadcasting that the world has ever seen,” says beIN.

Arabsat has previously firmly denied being involved in piracy with Arabsat president and CEO Khalid Balkheyour robustly denying that his Riyadh-based satellite operation is involved in the distribution of pirated signals from beoutQ over the Middle East.

However, beIN Media Group states: “Two of European football’s highest profile leagues, the English Premier League and France’s Ligue 1, kicked off their widely anticipated 2018/19 seasons but their broadcasts were, once again, stolen and distributed illegally across Saudi Arabia. Starting with the Premier League’s curtain-raiser of Manchester United v Leicester City on Friday through to Manchester City v Arsenal on Sunday, all 10 of the Premier League’s games were illegally broadcast live by beoutQ and Arabsat; while 6 of the 10 opening games of Ligue 1, including PSG v Caen, were also stolen. The pirate channel also brazenly promoted coverage of upcoming games it will show from LaLiga and the Bundesliga, both which start in the coming weeks, as a sign of beoutQ’s endless pipeline of piracy.”

The beIN statement continued: “beoutQ’s audacious announcement that it was back to its worst this weekend coincided with the latest incontrovertible evidence and reports presented by Cisco (the world’s foremost technology provider), NAGRA (the Swiss-based leading provider of pay-TV security solutions) and Overon (the leader of innovation technology for broadcast services), that explain in technical detail how Arabsat satellites have been, and still are, transmitting beoutQ’s pirate channels. Since August 2017, beoutQ has been stealing the broadcast feed of some of the most internationally-renowned sports brands and rights holders in the world, pirating everything from the Olympic Games, Formula 1 and Wimbledon tennis, to the UEFA Champions League, the English Premier League and LaLiga. Every single game of the recent FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia was broadcast illegally in Saudi Arabia by beoutQ, making it one of the most pirated sports events in history and prompting – in a unique step – the governing body of world football to call for legal action in Saudi Arabia.”

“The fact that beoutQ itself – on its own Facebook and other social media channels – lists the specific Arabsat frequencies on which it is available makes a mockery of Arabsat’s recent statements that beoutQ has never been transmitted by the satellite provider,” says the Qatari-based beIN Media Group.

Qatar is in the middle of a serious diplomatic rift with Saudi Arabia.

beIN adds that denials from Arabsat is “disinformation”, and the overwhelming evidence is that beoutQ is domiciled in Saudi Arabia. “Subscriptions must be validated from a Saudi IP address; its subscriptions are priced in Saudi riyals only; and its channels carry advertising for numerous Saudi brands. Indeed, even the name “beoutQ” is manifestly intended to mean “be out Qatar” – a reference to the Saudi-led blockade against Qatar.”

Tom Keaveny, Managing Director of beIN Media Group/MENA in an August 16th statement, said: “The political games being played by Arabsat, beoutQ and its Saudi backers in stealing our content have consequences that affect the future of world sport, not just beIN SPORTS. That is why the international sports community – from FIFA to UEFA, Formula 1 to world tennis, together with a host of other global broadcasters – have all taken a stand and publicly condemned this Saudi-based piracy. beoutQ and its Saudi backers seem to think they can operate beyond the reproach of the rule of law and the international norms that everyone else respects.”

“Arabsat has always been confident that our satellite network has not been used by beoutQ,” said Balkheyour in a recent Arabsat statement, saying: “We undertook a very costly investigation to eliminate any doubts and to provide evidence to share with FIFA and the world. Arabsat has been deeply offended and harmed by beIN’s and FIFA’s attacks,” Balkheyour said.


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