beIN SPORTS responds to Saudi fine and license cancellation

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The Qatari beIN SPORTS responded on Tuesday evening to a Saudi decision to fine and to permanently terminate the network’s license, stressing that the ruling was based on “false legal measures”.

In a statement, the leading media group indicated that the decision taken by the Saudi authorities: “Repeatedly violated their rights in due process.”

The network stressed that the decision is incompatible not only with international law, but with the most basic principles of competition laws, condemning the decision to ban its channels from providing their TV rights to viewers, in the usual way that sports and entertainment broadcasting organisations around the world follow.

According to the network: “The idea of ​​permanently banning a leading competitor from the market to boost competition is a contradictory and illogical idea.”

beIN SPORTS is concerned about the violation of TV rights perpetrated by government-subsidised pirate television broadcaster beoutQ, and cancelling competition in the market for nearly three years.

The network announced: “The only decision taken by the Saudi authorities was to continuously disrupt the legal measures that its European counterpart, the International Football Federation,  and the English Premier League tried to implement,” while describing the Saudi stance as “a total and explicit violation of the rules of the World Trade Organisation.”

READ: Football must not provide cover for human rights abuses and war crimes 

The network noted that Saudi Arabia’s continued failure to respect international laws and norms: “Harms sports fans in Saudi Arabia and sports organisations all over the world.”

Earlier today, the Saudi authorities announced the cancellation of beIN SPORTS’ licence in the kingdom and fined the media group.

The Saudi General Authority for Competition (GAC) disclosed in a statement: “The Administrative Court, in first-instance and appeal, upheld the decision of the commission for adjudication of competition offences  to punish beIN SPORTS Group Middle East and North Africa, with a fine of ten million Saudi riyals ($2.67 million),” reported Saudi local newspaper Okaz.

The Saudi court decided to: “Cancel the license of the defendant company in the kingdom permanently, in addition to requiring it to return all the gains it had made as a result of the violation, and publish the ruling at its expense.”

The GAC claimed that beIN SPORTS Group exploited its dominant position to monopolise the right of those wishing to watch its exclusive broadcast, by forcing them to buy an additional package that includes non-sports channels, in addition to other allegations.

The court decision comes after the World Trade Organisation (WTO) took measures in favour of the Qatari state last June against beoutQ, in relation to the sports network’s TV rights, stressing that Saudi Arabia violated the intellectual property rights of the media group owned by Doha.

Middle East Monitor

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