Saudi permanently revokes licence of Qatar's beIN

Ross Houston
July 15, 2020

"We would also question - as we have for 3 years - how Saudi citizens can watch Premier League matches legally in Saudi Arabia with this "permanent" ban on the Premier League's licensed broadcaster".

Subscribing to beIN, the Arab world's leading sports channel which has exclusive rights to several key tournaments, has been hard for Saudi fans since the kingdom's 2017 boycott of Qatar.

The takeover of Newcastle United has been complicated still further after Saudi Arabia permanently cancelled the license of beIN Sports to broadcast in the country.

But the Saudi government's decision to block beIN SPORTS in its country means audiences will not see Premier League football for the foreseeable future.

In June, the World Trade Organization ruled that Saudi Arabia helped breach global piracy laws in relation to the broadcaster beoutQ, which has been accused of illegally showing a range of professional sport, including the Premier League.

In response to today's announcement from the Saudi competition authorities, beIN said: "This decision was arrived at through sham legal proceedings that repeatedly violated beIN's due process rights at every turn and the decision itself is not only contrary to worldwide law but also the most basic principles of competition law".

A fresh attack on beIN Sports was branded "nonsensical on every level" by the Qatari broadcaster, which has been locked in a three-year dispute with the state over the beOutQ TV piracy scandal.

The worldwide trade body also found beoutQ was hosted on frequencies transmitted by satellite provider Arabsat, an entity with a Saudi CEO, majority-owned by the Saudi government, with its headquarters in Riyadh.

BeoutQ is widely available in Saudi Arabia but Riyadh has repeatedly said it is not based there, and that the Saudi government is committed to protecting intellectual property.

The hosting was facilitated by Saudi Television Company LLC, the WTO said, endorsing a 2019 French court decision that definitively ruled that Arabsat carried beoutQ.

The Premier League declined to comment but Steve Bruce is increasingly concerned that the current limbo is taking its toll at his club.

"Saudi Arabia's relentless failure to pay any heed to the rule of law or global norms is only harming sports fans in Saudi, and sports organizations all around the world".

Just days after Riyadh and its allies cut ties with Doha, Saudi Arabia banned the sale and distribution of beIN receivers and blocked Qatari websites as well as all transactions with its former ally.

The four countries accused Qatar of "supporting terrorism" and meddling in neighbouring countries' affairs.

But the delay is understood to be in part down to the row between Saudi Arabia and Qatar over piracy.

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