By Anthony Harwood/London Correspondent
The Premier League on Tuesday announced it was taking legal action against a Saudi Arabian pirate station that is illegally broadcasting its matches.
All 20 matches from the opening two weekends of the new season have been shown on the rogue channel, beoutQ, which is broadcast via the satellite provider Arabsat.Last updated: August 21 2018 09:45 PM
In a hard-hitting statement, the Premier League said on Tuesday: “The Premier League takes piracy in all its forms extremely seriously and is committed to working with its broadcast partners and regulatory authorities in territories around the world to stop the non-authorised exploitation of its content.
“As such, the Premier League has appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to begin the process of bringing legal action against the parties involved in this piracy.”
Arabsat is owned by the Saudi government, which has denied being behind the piracy, blaming Cuba and Colombia instead.
Last week, Qatar-based beIN Sports, which owns exclusive rights to the Premier League in the Mena (Middle East and North Africa) region, produced evidence to show that the pirate channel is being broadcast by the Riyadh-based provider.
The Premier League statement added, “The Premier League has seen compelling evidence demonstrating ‘beoutQ’ is a highly sophisticated pirate operation, which has used the services of satellite provider Arabsat to distribute the illegal content.”
The announcement followed a decision last week by the Premier League and La Ligue to write to the European Commission about beoutQ so pressure can be brought to bear on the Saudi authorities.
beoutQ’s illegal transmissions of major European leagues – as well as the Champions League, World Cup and Formula 1 - began last season after a diplomatic row broke out between Saudi Arabia and Qatar. In June 2017, a Saudi-led alliance led a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar, which included banning the sale of beIN satellite decoder boxes in the kingdom.
beoutQ found a way of stealing the beIN feed, superimposing its own logo over the beIN one.
In January, the Association for the Protection of Sporting Programmes, a grouping of broadcasters, the professional leagues and the sports’ federal bodies, met to work out how to combat the threat of piracy which has been described by UEFA as a threat to the future of European football.
Didier Quillot, the French LFP (Ligue de Football Professionnel) executive director-general, said: “Pirate broadcasts attack directly at the economic heart of the sport and we must unite in our struggle against this practice.”
Sophie Jordan, executive director of Legal Affairs at beIN Media Group, added: “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 Sports has exclusive rights to show the Premier League in the Mena region for the next three seasons.