Doha's BeIN Sports launches website to expose 'Saudi state-sponsored piracy

Doha's BeIN Sports launches website to expose 'Saudi state-sponsored piracy
The Doha-based beIN media group has launched a 'reveal-all' website to expose alleged Saudi-backed piracy of the network's television programmes.
3 min read
16 January, 2019

Qatar's beIN media group on Wednesday stepped up is war on alleged Saudi-backed piracy by launching a website exposing what it says is widescale theft of its TV programmes.

The "reveal all" website aims to hold the pirate operation to account, a statement from beIN said.

"What started out as a concerted and targeted campaign against beIN has now morphed into the largest commercial theft that's ever been seen in the world of sport and entertainment," Tom Keaveny, beIN's managing director in the Middle East region, said in the statement.

"This Saudi-supported plague of piracy represents an existential threat to the economic model of the industry." 

The website details programmes being illegally broadcast in more than 20 countries, a timeline of events and points the finger at several prominent Saudi figures under the headline: "The Saudi State-Supported Piracy of World Sport and Entertainment".

Among those mentioned is Saud al-Qahtani, an aide of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who was "fired" for his alleged involvement in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, although he is meant to be still continuing with his palace duties.

The website displays a picture of a tweet written by al-Qahtani, who told his 1.3 million Twitter followers to spread misinformation about beIN.

The website is a "reveal all" on alleged "Saudi state-supported piracy" [Screenshot]

BeIN has previously alleged that since August 2017 a vast and sophisticated Saudi bootlegging network known as "beoutQ" had been transmitting its stolen programmes via Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat.

The Doha-based broadcaster launched a compensation claim worth $1 billion against the Saudi piracy channel, while Qatar filed an action at the World Trade Organisation. No progress on the claims have been reported to date.

Football's world governing body, FIFA, and the UK's Premier League have said they are preparing to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against the illegal broadcasts.

Saudi Arabi has denied the claims and even said the piracy was operating out of Cuba.

The latest move in the piracy dispute comes amid a 19-month economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies, which accuse Doha of backing terrorism and seeking closer ties with rival Iran.

Qatar has vehemently denied the allegations.

The launch of the expose site also comes ahead of a politically-charged Asian Cup football match between Qatar and Saudi Arabia on Thursday. The match will be played in the United Arab Emirates, which is part of the Saudi-led bloc boycotting Qatar.

It was also announced earlier this week that recently-sacked Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will be acting as a pundit for beIN's live broadcast of the match.