FIFA Announces Legal Action In Saudi Arabia Against BeoutQ
FIFA on Wednesday said that it "engaged legal counsel to take action in Saudi Arabia" against TV channel beoutQ, "which is widely available in the kingdom," for continuing to illegally broadcast the World Cup, according to Alexander Cornwell of REUTERS. FIFA last month warned that it was "exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights" over beoutQ’s airing of the opening games of the tournament. Saudi Arabia said that beoutQ is "not based in the kingdom" and that it has "relentlessly" combated the channel’s activities and is "committed to protecting" intellectual property rights. BeoutQ "could not be reached for comment." It is "unclear who owns or operates the channel" (REUTERS, 7/11). BLOOMBERG's David Hellier reported away from the trading of accusations, sports organizations "are now mobilizing to protect their interests." FIFA said on Wednesday that it would "take legal action in Saudi Arabia and is working with other owners of sports rights." It did not say whom "it planned to sue." It said in a statement, "FIFA urges the authorities of Saudi Arabia and of the different countries where these illegal activities have been observed to support us in the fight against piracy." La Liga said last week that it loses $469M a year to piracy and "vowed to take action against beoutQ." Global tennis associations described the channel on July 5 as an "industrial-scale illegal piracy." That was after UEFA called on authorities to use "all their power" to "shut it down." Failure to act against piracy "could mean less money down the line as networks seek compensation or negotiate lower fees," according to Marc Ganis, head of Chicago-based sports business company Sportscorp. Ganis: "The risk increases significantly the greater the piracy becomes and the more financially attractive markets they penetrate." BeIN Sports "already has been hit by Middle East politics after Saudi Arabia and three of its allies severed diplomatic, trade and transport links with Qatar" in June '17. BeIN Sports Managing Dir, Middle East & Africa Tom Keaveny said that profit in the region over the past year was 17% lower than projected "because of the boycott and piracy." He added that beoutQ "opened Pandora’s box." Keaveny: "If it’s possible to steal from us, it’s possible to steal from any broadcaster or rights holder in the world" (BLOOMBERG, 7/11).
'QUITE BIZARRE': AL JAZEERA reported during its live coverage of the World Cup and Wimbledon, beIN "put a ticker on its screens showing the FIFA statement and that by the ITF in an attempt to raise awareness among beoutQ customers" that they are watching a "stolen version of the beIN signal." N.Y. Times reporter Tariq Panja said that FIFA "will face a lot of difficulty finding legal representation inside Saudi Arabia." He said, "It's quite bizarre in a way -- if you can't get a lawyer, if you can't take legal action to the court, you are not going to get a decision and this has been going on now for the better part of a year." He added that beoutQ's operation is "very sophisticated" and "extremely complicated," costing "millions of dollars" (AL JAZEERA, 7/12).