Global news agency Reuters has reported Monday night that channel beIN Sports has now been allowed to broadcast in Saudi Arabia, in the aftermath of the end of the blockade against Qatar.
"It was unclear if the ban was officially lifted but several cafes and restaurants in the capital Riyadh were using satellite dishes to show games of the Premier League on beIN Sports channels," Reuters added.
The Saudi government’s media office did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on whether the policy had changed.
However, a spokesperson of BeIN Media Group has said in a statement sent to Reuters that BeIN's website is still fully blocked in Saudi Arabia and they haven't received official communication from Saudi authorities stating that their license has been re-instated.
“Nothing has materially changed as far as we are aware at this stage - we are constantly monitoring. Our website is still fully blocked in Saudi Arabia and we have received no official communication from the Saudi authorities to suggest that our license has been re-instated. However, like everyone, we are hopeful of positive moves by Saudi to allow beIN operations back in the country after 3.5 years. We await to see.” - beIN
beIN Sports has been blocked from broadcasting in Saudi Arabia since June 2017 due to the blockade and its license was permanently canceled by Saudi's General Authority for Competition (GAC) in July 2020.
In 2018, beIN filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), saying Saudi Arabia was blocking beIN from broadcasting in the kingdom and said it had refused to take effective action against alleged piracy of beIN’s content by beoutQ, a commercial-scale pirating operation.
A WTO panel last year found Saudi Arabia had breached global rules on intellectual property rights by failing to prosecute beoutQ while supporting Riyadh’s view that it could block the Qatari broadcaster from obtaining legal counsel in the kingdom on grounds of national security. A WTO panel last year found Saudi Arabia had breached global rules on intellectual property rights by failing to prosecute beoutQ while supporting Riyadh’s view that it could block the Qatari broadcaster from obtaining legal counsel in the kingdom on grounds of national security. Riyadh has repeatedly said it is fighting piracy and committed to protecting intellectual property, as reported by Reuters.
beIN also lodged an international investment arbitration case against Saudi Arabia worth $1bn in compensation for what has been described as "the most widespread piracy of sports broadcasting that the world has ever seen". The court case is still pending and the arbitration will be held in London.
This is a developing story. We'll be posting an update on this soon.
Cover image: AFP
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