BeIN blacked out in Saudi Arabia, license cancelled permanently

BeIN Sports broadcast has been blacked out in Saudi Arabia. For ever. The Saudi Authorities have permanently cancelled the licence of beIN Sports. The Qatar-based sports broadcaster had been barred from broadcasting in the kingdom since mid-2017 over political disputes with Qatar.

The Saudi government claims the broadcaster has “abused its dominant position through several monopolistic practices”.

The broadcaster also faces a penalty of $ 2.6 bn (riyal 10 mn) for practices “that restrict competition,” according to a statement by Saudi’s General Authority for Competition (GAC). The penalty is being imposed following a GAC investigation into complaints against beIN for “monopolistic practices” during the European Football Championship 2016.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) had ruled last month that Riyadh actively supported the beoutQ pirate TV operation, and breached its obligations under international law to protect intellectual property rights.

BeIN Sports, which holds exclusive rights to broadcast international tournaments to the Middle East and North Africa region and Europe , according to Al Jazeera, has denounced the move. “This decision was arrived at through sham legal proceedings that repeatedly violated beIN’s due process rights at every turn,” beIN said in a statement.

“We would also question – as we have for three years – how Saudi citizens can watch Premier League matches legally in Saudi Arabia with this permanent ban on the Premier League’s licensed broadcaster?”

BeoutQ Dispute

The trouble had been brewing ever since the Saudi Arabian broadcaster beoutQ had been accused of transmitting pirated sports feed.

In a case filed by Qatar the WTO had ruled against Saudi Arabia and pirate broadcaster beoutQ for distributing content belonging to beIN. Riyadh was pronounced guilty of violating  international intellectual property rules by shielding beoutQ from legal action.

The international trade body had also found beoutQ was hosted on frequencies transmitted by satellite provider Arabsat, an entity with a Saudi CEO, majority-owned by the Saudi government, with its headquarters in Riyadh.

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