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Saturday, September 25, 2021

For Qatar sports fans, BeIN goes off air ‘at worst possible time’

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Football match on beIN
Football match on beIN

Updated at 5pm with comment from Ooredoo

Football fans in Qatar who have been trying to watch the English Premier League’s final matches this week are expressing exasperation and disappointment after all beIN Sports channels stopped playing on Ooredoo’s Mozaic TV.

BeIN went down just ahead of some of the most talked-about football matches, including this week’s win for underdogs Leicester City, who beat 5,000-1 odds to clinch the league title.

Qatar-based beIN Sports can be accessed through telecom provider Ooredoo’s Mozaic TV packages, as well through online beIN subscriptions and via a dedicated beIN set-top box.

BeIN was broadcasting the matches live on Sunday and Monday, but Mozaic customers were not able to tune in.

Other BeIN subscribers and those not in Qatar have not been affected.

Customer message on Oordeoo Mozaic for beIN Sports
Customer message on Oordeoo Mozaic for beIN Sports

According to customers, the channels initially had a message saying there were “technical difficulties,” but now state:

“This channel is temporarily unavailable and we are in discussions with beIN to resume the broadcasting of this channel.

We would like to apologize for any inconvenience and assure you that we are working to resume broadcasting as soon as possible.”

Ongoing discussions

A beIN spokesman told Doha News that the broadcaster’s contract with Ooredoo had “expired” and negotiations over a renewal are still ongoing.

Ooredoo and beIN last inked a two-year deal in May 2014.

“We have had a longstanding relationship with Ooredoo that we value. They are a close partner in our effort to deliver entertainment to sports fans in the region,” the BeIN spokesman said, adding:

“But these relationships come up for renewal and we are going through that cycle, where the contractual obligations are being discussed, with a view to them being renewed. The renewal did not happen in time but beIN and Ooredoo have great faith that this will be a relationship to carry on.”

He said that the timing of the channels’ shut down on Mozaic was not done “with any malicious intent” by either side.

“It was pure coincidence that this thing has happened at a time that unfortunately is the worst possible time from a sports fan’s perspective, he added.

He was unable to give a timeline for when the channels might be back on air with Mozaic.

In a statement, Ooredoo said Ooredoo TV and Mozaic TV are “temporarily unable” to broadcast beIN Sports channels.

“Ooredoo has been attempting to renew its contract with beIN Sports since October 2015, but does not expect the issue to be fixed today, as discussions are ongoing,” the statement continued.

All beIN subscribers using Ooredoo tv and Mozaic TV will not be charged for their subscription until an agreement has been met, the telecoms provider added.

 

Customers’ reactions

The channels’ shutdown through Mozaic has left many sports fans upset.

Qatar resident Andy Hogarth told Doha News that when he tried to watch football matches through Mozaic on May 1, he received a message warning of “technical difficulties.”

In repeated phone calls, he said he was told that the issue would be temporary and should be resolved that day.

“At one point I was told it would be fixed in 30 minutes, and that I should switch my box off then on again. But that did nothing,” he said.

Hogarth said he pays QR80 a month to subscribe to the beIN Sports global sports package with Mozaic.

“I am exasperated at the lack of communication. They just switch off the channels – what do they expect their customers to do?

There has been no communication at all and we (the customers) keep paying for this,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mozaic customer Ben Lafferty told Doha News the timing meant he is missing key sports matches.

“The suspension of the BeIn Sports channels couldn’t have come at a worse time. We missed the historic moment that 5000-1 outsiders Leicester City won the Premier League… and there are the upcoming second legs of the Champions League semi-finals; will the channels be back on air by then? Also the NBA play-offs are on and we’re missing all of that action on the BeIn NBA channel,” he said.

Graham, who asked for his family name not to be used, said he rushed home from work on Sunday to watch the football match, but was unable to.

“I am shocked this is still going on… the biggest weekend of the season and Ooredoo is not saying anything other than ‘it’ll be back on soon,’ ” he added.

Others took to social media to complain:

Watching sport

While the contract negotiations are ongoing, beIN said there are a number of other ways sports fans can watch its channels, although all of them require customers to take out subscriptions at an additional cost.

The channels are still being broadcast online on laptops, smart phones and smart TVs through the beIN Connect service and immediate subscriptions can be set up via the website. This costs $7 for the first month, and then up to $20 per month to subscribe after that.

Or a beIN set-top box and satellite disc can be ordered online, through beIN kiosks in Villaggio Mall, City Center Mall, Lagoona Mall and Al Khor Mall or by calling beIN contact center on 133. Payment can be made over the phone using a credit card or by cash, on delivery.

The sports package costs $25 a month in addition to installation and set-up fees.

Have you been affected? Thoughts?

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