beIN cuts 300 jobs, OSN shuts Pehla as MENA piracy bites | Broadcast | News | Rapid TV News
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beIN Media has reduced its workforce by a fifth and rival OSN is closing its Pehla cricket and entertainment network, as piracy takes its toll on pay-TV operators in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
beIN Sport 24 Sugust 2018
The blight of two years’ sustained content piracy is to blame for the 300 job losses at its Doha-based headquarters, beIN Media said.

In June 2017, Qatar’s beIN lost access to its largest market Saudi Arabia due to a diplomatic and trade blockade between the two companies. Shortly afterwards, the illegal broadcast network beoutQ began pirating beIN content on an industrial scale. The media rights to hot sporting properties such as FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League, the Premier League are exclusively held by beIN across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), however all have regularly appeared on beoutQ.

"In light of these challenges we have taken some difficult decisions to right-size our MENA business, but these decisions will secure our business for the future – we are not going anywhere,” a beIN spokesperson said.

Earlier in June, a French court ruled that the beoutQ channels are being transmitted across MENA and further afield using Arabsat satellite transponders, although the causal link that Arabsat or the Saudi Government was backing the pirate network was not proved, as beIN had hoped.

“The next step is for Arabsat to be asked to remove these channels,” said Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal research analyst, IHS Markit. “Arabsat has removed in the last six years more than 70 rogue channels, following a request by broadcasters, pay TV operators etc. Channels broadcasting pirated content is a frequent phenomenon in MENA, hence the existence of rogue channels in Arabsat’s frequencies does not provide a strong legal case that Arabsat is supporting these channels.”

Content pirates have also been blamed for the impending closure of the South Asian Pehla entertainment network, operated by beIN Media’s legitimate regional pay-TV rival OSN. ‘Illegal streaming sites, pirate IPTV decoders within OSN’s licensed territories, has made it difficult for OSN to continue offering Pehla,’ OSN said in a statement.

All Pehla packs will be discontinued and further subscriptions stopped from 15 July, the day after the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, which is being broadcast on the network.

“These changes may inconvenience some Pehla customers, however, they will be given the choice to retain their favourite non-South Asian channels and watch an eclectic mix of additional world-class series, movies, kids’ and factual entertainment, as well as some of OSN’s exclusive channels, that showcase popular content from around the world like Chernobyl, Handmaid’s Tale, Keeping up with the Kardashians, La La Land and more.”

With this latest move, OSN will no longer offer any sports content, having closed its non-cricket sports channels earlier this year.