Qatari broadcaster beIN said on Thursday it has "irrefutable evidence" that a pirate channel illegally showing hundreds of live European football matches is being carried on the Saudi-based satellite provider Arabsat.
In the latest shot in a long-running war over illegal broadcasts fuelled by a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, beIN said research by three international "leading digital security" companies had confirmed Arabsat's involvement.
"The evidence is irrefutable -- the illegal channel beoutQ is backed by Saudi nationals and openly promoted by leading Saudi figures," said Sophie Jordan, beIN's director of legal affairs.
"It is broadcast on the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat.
"On a daily basis it is carrying out, in broad daylight, a mass-scale theft of highly valuable intellectual property rights."
US company Cisco Systems, Swiss firm NAGRA and Overon, based in Spain, carried out the research for beIN.
Jordan said the pirate channel is operating "with the tacit consent of the Saudi government and its World Cup pirate feeds were viewed on public screens under the responsibility of Saudi authorities across the country".
She said it is time for Arabsat to switch off the pirate transmissions it has supported for almost a year; "it is time for Arabsat to be made accountable for facilitating the largest pay TV piracy organisation in the history of Pay-TV.”
BeIN claims that since last October the pirate channel beoutQ has been illegally transmitting its broadcasts.
Saudi Arabia and Arabsat have denied any links with beoutQ.
Yesterday's statement is the most explicit yet by beIN Media Group, which has paid billions of dollars to secure exclusive rights to broadcast English Premier League and French Ligue 1 matches live.
BeIN said their broadcasts from both leagues, which started their new seasons last weekend, were stolen and broadcast illegally across Saudi Arabia.
The piracy issue continued during the 2018 World Cup in Russia after beIN said tournament matches were illegally broadcast.
The row has been dragging in major sporting federations, alarmed that expensively-acquired television rights may be at risk.
In July, FIFA said it was preparing to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against pirate broadcasters.
The piracy issue has surfaced at a politically sensitive time in the Gulf, with Doha boycotted by Riyadh and other neighbours, in a highly fractious diplomatic and economic dispute.
beoutQ taken to European Commission
The Premier League and La Ligue on Thursday joined forces to take the Saudi Arabian pirate TV station, beoutQ, to the European Commission.
It happened after the two major football leagues in Europe had all the matches of the new season broadcast by the rogue transmitter across the Middle East and North Africa region.
This followed illegal broadcasts of the World Cup, Champions League and Formula I which were all similarly pirated from the Qatar-based channel, beIN Sports, which owns the exclusive rights.
In a statement Premier League said: "The Premier League has written to the European Commission as part of the Sports Rights Owners Coalition. This is just one of the measures we are taking to address this very serious issue. We operate a significant anti-piracy programme in a range of countries to protect the copyright of the League and our clubs.Last updated: August 16 2018 09:39 PM
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