Qatar's beIN off-air in UAE amid bootlegging allegations

BeIN, which owns exclusive rights to the World Cup, said its channels are being pirated across the region.

    BeIN Sports has exclusive rights to the World Cup, which starts on June 14 in Russia [Reuters]
    BeIN Sports has exclusive rights to the World Cup, which starts on June 14 in Russia [Reuters]

    Television channels belonging to Qatar-based beIN Sports have gone dark for thousands of Emirati viewers after the broadcaster complained its content was being pirated.

    UAE digital television company Du said on Saturday the outage was a result of action taken by beIN Sports.

    "We regret to inform that our customers are temporarily unable to view beIN sports channels and packages as a result of a decision by the broadcaster of beIN Sports," it said in a statement on its website without elaborating.

    The Middle East Eye reported a source with knowledge of the situation said the disruption in the United Arab Emirates had been caused by ongoing commercial negotiations and had nothing to do with political disputes or pirating.

    Saturday's incident comes after beIN said its channels were being pirated across the region, with images allegedly being broadcast illegally by a company called beoutQ, which is apparently based in Saudi Arabia.

    BeoutQ, a 10-channel system broadcasting to the Middle East on Arabsat, is allegedly stealing beIN's output, Advanced Television reported on its website.

    Tom Keaveny, managing director of beIN, said last week: "The pirated signal is being transmitted by the Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat, whose largest shareholder is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia," the report quoted him as saying.

    Earlier this week, beIN called on FIFA to launch legal action against those stealing its broadcasts in the Middle East.

    Keaveny said beIN's engineers have been trying to stop the bootlegging operation but to no avail because of its sophistication.

    "[It] takes industrial scale knowledge and ability and multimillion-dollar funding," he told the New York Times last month. "This isn't someone in their bedroom."

    A group of countries - including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt - cut all ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017, accusing Doha of supporting "terrorism" and being too close to regional rival Iran.

    Qatar denies the allegations.

    BeIN has exclusive rights to the World Cup, which starts on June 14 in Russia. Its channels were blocked in the UAE immediately after the crisis' onset, but were back on the air by last July.

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    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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