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British broadcaster the BBC and TV network Sky have highlighted the threat of alleged pirate channel beoutQ in letters to the European Commission.
The BBC and Sky called on the Commission to take formal action against Saudi Arabia, where beoutQ is reportedly based, according to newspaper The Guardian.
The broadcasters have sent letters to Anna Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for trade.
In the letters, the BBC and Sky outlined their concerns and backed a formal EU protest against the Saudi government.
The Guardian reported that Sky’s letter refers to the “threats posed to European broadcasters and rights owners by a relatively new, but rapidly growing, source of audiovisual piracy, namely the beoutQ service”.
The letter added that Sky understands that the directorate general of trade (which works under the authority of Malmström) is planning to launch a démarche (formal protest) towards Saudi Arabia’s authorities regarding the issue.
It added: “The purpose of this letter is to confirm Sky’s full support for that démarche.”
The BBC’s letter highlighted the financial considerations surrounding piracy, stating that the availability of pirated BBC content will adversely impact the broadcaster’s ability to license the BBC channels.
The beoutQ channel hit the headlines in July this year, when the world’s tennis governing bodies publicly condemned it and called for the immediate closure of the illegal piracy operation.
In a letter, the governing bodies claimed that beoutQ had been illegally broadcasting a variety of tennis tournaments in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region without obtaining any rights to do so.
However, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Media denied claims that beoutQ is based in Saudi Arabia.
In July, just days before the end of the football World Cup, the sport’s international governing body FIFA revealed its plan to tackle beoutQ.
Along with engaging counsel to take legal action against beoutQ, the governing body is working alongside other sports rights owners that have been affected.
Saudi Arabia welcomed FIFA’s announcement, stating that the governing body’s actions would supplement the “relentless efforts” by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment in combatting beoutQ’s activities.
One month later, Qatar-based beIN Media Group said that technical evidence has established “beyond any doubt” that a satellite operator headquartered in Saudi Arabia is responsible for distributing pirated content.
The media group claimed that technology conglomerate Cisco Systems, TV security company Nagra, and broadcasting services provider Overon “independently and definitively confirmed” that beoutQ's pirated content is being distributed by Arabsat.
Arabsat is a satellite operator in the Arab world that claims to reach more than 170 million viewers in the MENA region. Saudi Arabia has the largest share (36.7%) in the operator.
Sky, BBC, European Commission, piracy, online infringement, copyright infringement, online piracy, streaming, beoutQ