beIN Sport banned from Saudi Arabia | Pay-TV | News | Rapid TV News
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In the latest part of the diplomatic row between Saudi Arabia and Qatar that has spilled over into TV, Saudi Arabian authorities have cancelled permanently the broadcast licence of Doha-based beIN Sports.
beIN Sport 24 Sugust 2018
The dispute began in June 2017 when imports of the pay-TV network’s receivers were blocked in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain following the severing of diplomatic, economic and trade ties with Qatar.  The move saw residents in the two countries banned from renewing or taking out new subscriptions to Qatar-based pay-TV network beIN Media, as the diplomatic row spread in the Gulf, a dispute that has continued to this day.

Indeed the sports pay-TV network has been a key element in the dispute with beIN Sport content being illegally redistributed by the infamous BeoutQ pirate network which parent company beIN Media, supported by major international sports bodies and technology companies, claims broadcasts via the Riyadh-based Arabsat satellite platform.

In January 2020, the European Commission condemned the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for causing what it said “considerable harm” to EU businesses through its alleged support for the piracy operation.

In a report published following representations by rights-holders, broadcasters, pay-TV providers and other stakeholders across European sport, the European Commission identified 13 priority countries on which it would focus action regarding the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in third countries. It singled out Saudi Arabia for criticism following what it calls “the unprecedented two-year theft” of European sport programmes by beoutQ and Arabsat. The representations were made by European football governing body UEFA, the Premier League, LaLiga as well as beIN Media Group regarding what was described as ‘rampant’ copyright piracy.

In this latest part of the saga, Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Competition (GAC) said that the ban had come after it had investigated beIN Sport for "monopolistic practices" during the European Football Championship of 2016.

The ruling said that through what it called a product tying process, beIN Sports had compelled potential subscribers to sports bundle to subscribe to other bundles that include non-sports contents. This it said saw subscribers with a valid basic bundle covering the Euro 2016 tournament, compelled to renew their subscription in advance for another full year, as a condition to watch the tournament. This was classified by GAC as a “clear” per se violation of Saudi competition law and its implementing regulations.

Consequently, GAC says that it has taken “necessary measures” to stop such practices and eliminate the “monopolistic violation” that beIN Sports has committed.
As part of its ruling, GAC fined beIN Sports $2.67 million (ten million Saudi riyals) while permanently terminating its broadcast licence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It added that all financial gains obtained by the defendant as a result of the violation, should be returned.

In a statement, beIN Sports condemned the move as a result of “sham legal proceedings” that repeatedly “violated beIN's due process rights at every turn.” It added: "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?"