- Saudi-backed BeoutQ challenged on piracy
- UK MPs call for action on illegal redistribution
- Global action is “critically important”
The UK government is taking aim at Saudi Arabian-backed TV operation BeoutQ amid accusations that the company is stealing intellectual property from the UK’s leading sport and entertainment companies.
Digital, Culture, Media and Sport secretary of state Jeremy Wight QC confirmed a number of government bodies are investigating the issue and speaking directly with the Saudi authorities.
He said: “If we want to see good quality sport, we have to make sure that people are able to protect those rights so they can carry on delivering it to us; and those that are seeking to undermine those rights of course undermine that process.
“That’s why we take an interest, it’s why we understand and sympathise with the concerns the Premier League and others have expressed and as I say there is activity underway.”
According to a statement, Sky, Channel 5, and the Premier League have been targeted along with the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 in what was described as “brazen theft of UK entertainment content.”
Illegal streaming apps hosted by BeoutQ have been found to have previously pirated Champions League, Bundesliga, Formula 1 and the NFL among other entertainment programmes in a large-scale operation.
Last year, Qatar’s BeIN sports channel signed a broadcasting deal with football body Fifa in a $35 million agreement with the Saudis. As IBC365 reported, the two governments fell out and BeIN senior executives called on authorities to shut down the channel which was illegally redistributing its content.
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DCMS Committee chairman Damian Collins MP said: “The issues of BeoutQ is straightforward piracy,” he called into question whether the government was taking appropriate independent action.
He added: “I’d be slightly concerned if our interest in this issue, and addressing it, is being balanced with other trade interests in the region”.
Two week ago, the UK House of Commons raised the BeoutQ illegal operation with former minister for Scotland Alistair Carmichael MP, highlighting the widespread piracy allegedly conducted by the company.
He said: “The Government has got to work with intellectual property holders to protect sports… [and] to challenge their friends in Saudi Arabia and get them to take more action to protect the future of the sports and entertainment industries and ensure that the football teams which we all love can continue to thrive.”
Following the BeoutQ headlines the US Government published two reports last week that directly condemned the operation and called for an end to the Saudi-backed piracy scheme.
BeoutQ was also singled out as a “rogue illegal operation” that was found to be damaging to Hollywood and impact content creator globally by Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chairman and chief executive Charles Rivkin.
BeIN media group chief executive Yousef Al-Obaidly commented on the global statements. He said: “The weight of the international community is coming to bear on Saudi Arabia to stop breaking the rule of law and to end its safe haven for piracy that has now spread across the Middle East, UK, Europe, the US and around the world.”
He added the developments are “hugely significant” and the intervention on the Saudi Government “represents a critically important call from a Parliamentary Committee of MPs for the UK Government to intervene.”