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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

‘Agreement reached’ to unblock Qatar’s beIN Sports in Saudi Arabia: source

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A beIN Sports source said the ban has still not been lifted.

An agreement to lift a Saudi ban on Qatar’s beIn Sports was reached between officials earlier on Wednesday, a source with knowledge told Doha News.

However, the move to lift the four-year ban on the network has not yet been finalised, a beIN source confirmed to Doha News.

The comments came shortly after reports said the leading sports broadcaster was no longer barred in the neighbouring country.

Timeline: How the GCC crisis erupted over three years

Such a move signals an end to a long-running dispute between the two Gulf states, which had been locked in a political crisis that ended with the signing of the Al Ula Declaration earlier this year.

Since the 2017 blockade, the Qatari network has been actively engaged in a legal dispute with Saudi Arabia, accusing the kingdom of piracy.

beoutQ—BeIN Sports dispute

Shortly after the 2017 blockade, the Qatari broadcaster was blocked to hundreds of thousands of subscribers in Saudi Arabia.

Two months later, Saudi-based outfit beoutQ, began broadcasting content stolen from beIn. The signal was transmitted using Saudi Arabia-based communications satellite operator, Arabsat.

BeoutQ’s sophisticated theft of intellectual property developed when it launched set-top boxes and started selling subscription packages to air English, Italian, Spanish and German football games.

Read also: Bahrain seizes 130 properties belonging to Qatar’s royal family

The channel also pirated numerous international sporting events including Super Bowl LII, the UEFA Champions League Final, the NBA Finals, multiple Formula 1 races, and all 64 matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In a joint statement by FIFA, the AFC, UEFA, the Bundesliga, LaLiga, Lega Serie A, LFP and the Premier League on the MarkMonitor publication of an investigative report into the operations of beoutQ, they said:

“The report confirms without question that beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts have been transmitted using satellite infrastructure owned and operated by Arabsat. Cutting off its access to transmission services would be a major step in the fight to stop beoutQ. We all, individually and collectively, remain committed to bringing an end to international sports piracy.”

In June, the World Trade Organisation ruled in favour of beIN Sports in a dispute over the piracy charges.

The ruling, piracy charges and concerns over the kingdom’s human rights record led to the scrapping of a £300 million ($390,930,000) Saudi bid to purchase an 80 percent stake in Premier League team, Newcastle United.


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