WTO condemns Saudi Arabia for pirate broadcaster beoutQ, in blow to Riyadh's Newcastle United bid

WTO condemns Saudi Arabia for pirate broadcaster beoutQ, in blow to Riyadh's Newcastle United bid
The WHO backed Qatar's complaint about Saudi Arabia's illegal broadcast of Premier League games by channel beoutQ.
2 min read
16 June, 2020
Newcastle United are one of the Premier League's biggest teams [Getty]
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) strongly condemned Saudi Arabia on Tuesday for breaking intellectual property rights over its refusal to take action against pirate channel beoutQ, a decision which could impact on Riyadh's bid to purchase Premier League team Newcastle United.

The three-member panel backed Qatar's claims that Saudi Arabia had broken WTO rules by allowing the pirate sports channel beoutQ to illegally broadcast Doha-based beIN Sports' coverage of European football games.

Qatar filed a complaint in 2018 to the WTO about Saudi Arabia's alleged breaches of trade rules and illegal business practices.

It included charges that Riyadh illegally blocked transmission of Doha-based beIN Sports in Saudi Arabia and Riyadh's alleged links to the pirate sports broadcaster, beoutQ.

Riyadh's actions follow a blockade on Qatar by land, sea and air, by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt in June 2017.

This also involved blocking the transmission of Qatari channels, including beIN Sports which has regional coverage rights for major sporting events such as the Premier League.

BeoutQ emerged after beIN Sport transmissions were blocked in Saudi Arabia, and has been illegally streaming coverage of sports games and removing the Qatari broadcaster's watermark on transmissions. 

The WTO ruled in a report viewed by The Guardian last month that beoutQ had illegally streamed beIN sports coverage.

This report was officially released to the public on Tuesday and could have an impact on Saudi Arabia's controversial bid to purchase Newcastle United.

A decision on whether the Saudi buy-out of Newcastle United is expected this week, but is said to rest on the WTO's ruling.

The WTO's condemnation of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday regarding the illegal broadcast of games could reflect badly on Riyadh's hopes to purchase the Premier League club.

Around 80 percent of the £300million takeover is being funded by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has been linked to the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Campaigners have said that these allegations and other alleged human rights abuses should disqualify Saudi Arabia from buying-out the English Premier League side.

If the Premier League blocks the purchase of Newcastle United it would be a symbolic victory for activists seeking justice for Khashoggi's murder.

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