Qatar-based beIN Sports said on Friday it "decided not to renew a contract" for the rights to broadcast Formula 1 in the Middle East and North Africa "as a consequence of piracy in the region," according to Alan Baldwin of REUTERS. The previous five-year deal expired at the end of last season. The 21-race '19 world championship starts in Australia on March 17. BeIN Sports, which also has the local rights to the Premier League and other major football leagues and tournaments, has "urged sports bodies to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against illegal broadcasts." BeoutQ emerged in '17 after Saudi Arabia and its allies "launched a diplomatic and trade boycott of Qatar," accusing the Gulf state of supporting terrorism, which Doha denies. BeIN MENA Managing Dir Tom Keaveny said, "A rights holder’s stance on beoutQ’s piracy -- in other words whether they’re taking legal action, making a public stand, and doing everything within their power to combat the industrial-scale theft of their rights -- is a critical factor that we’re now considering when bidding." Keaveny said that beIN, a pay-TV broadcaster, paid "huge sums for media rights and had been warning for nearly two years of the commercial impact of piracy." He added that beIN "would pay less for rights that cannot be protected." F1, which holds "lucrative" races in Saudi regional allies Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, declined to comment on the suggestion that it had "not done enough" to combat beoutQ (REUTERS, 2/8).