Piracy: "beoutQ impacts the entire ecosystem of international sport" (Sophie Jordan, beIN)Paris - Publié le vendredi 15 février 2019 à 15 h 04 - n° 140155 « If it’s not stopped quickly, beoutQ (Saudi pirate entity) will get out of control and will wipe billions of Euros off the value of global sports and entertainment. The damaging consequence of reduced funding will not be felt solely by the rights holders such as the sports leagues and federations, but there will also be reduced investment in sporting events, clubs, and the grassroots game. It is truly the entire ecosystem of international sport that is impacted, » said Sophie Jordan, beIN Media Group’s general counsel and deputy managing director at beIN SportsbeIN Sports France, to News Tank Football on 13/02/2019.
« The Saudi government has been actively supporting the rampant piracy of our exclusive content, which is distributed via beoutQ and Arabsat, constituting the biggest scheme of industrial piracy of sports that the world has ever seen. We have assessed the disastrous consequences of these measures and the ongoing attack, with a significant loss of subscribers and income in the MENAMENAMiddle East and North Africa region, » said the deputy managing director of beIN Sports France.
« Of course, we are very watchful of the rights holders’ positioning with regard to the piracy of their content and the theft of their intellectual property. Obviously, we cannot accept that they take a passive stance on this issue. Their commitment to protect the exclusivity they sell to us, through concrete steps including legal action, is taken into consideration when bidding or renewing our rights, » added Sophia Jordan, who responded to questions from News Tank Football.
« We have always given the utmost importance to the fight against piracy in all its forms » (S. Jordan, beIN Media Group)
beIN Media Group launched a legal procedure for more than $1bn (€862m) in damages against Saudi Arabia on 01/10/2018 ; what elements have you taken into account to estimate the amount of your business losses ? Is there anything new regarding this procedure ?
We have been illegally excluded from the Saudi market since June 2017We filed an arbitration proceeding as we have been illegally excluded from the Saudi market. Since June 2017, the Saudi government has imposed a number of abusive measures on beIN aimed at stopping our commercial activity in this important territory. In addition, the Saudi government has been actively supporting the rampant piracy of our exclusive content, which is distributed via beoutQ and Arabsat, constituting the biggest scheme of industrial piracy of sports that the world has ever seen. We have assessed the disastrous consequences of these measures and the ongoing attack, with a significant loss of subscribers and income in the MENAMENAMiddle East and North Africa region. The damage is now spreading into other territories and markets, as the pirate network has expanded internationally and is being hacked itself. Our financial losses are therefore continuing to grow with each passing day.
The WTO has established a dispute settlement panel against Saudi ArabiaIn addition to beIN’s ongoing arbitration proceeding against Saudi Arabia, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has recently announced that it has established a dispute settlement panel in a separate case against Saudi Arabia regarding failure to protect intellectual property rights consistent with its WTO obligations, including with respect to the beoutQ piracy. We have provided all the necessary evidence and elements demonstrating the involvement of Saudi Arabia and Arabsat in this piracy, supported by technical expertise of leading digital and technology security companies that confirm the involvement of Arabsat, whose largest shareholder is the government of Saudi Arabia.
beIN Media Group launched a website to show the involvement of the Saudi State in beoutQ, on 16/01/2019
• beIN Media Group launched a website (https://beoutq.tv/) to demonstrate the Saudi State's involvement in the piracy of the global sports and entertainment industry, on 16/01/2019.
• The site "places out in the open the mountain of evidence against beoutQ, and will be regularly updated as legal actions against Saudi Arabia continue to mount, so that the pirate operation is held to account. The website includes materials on where beoutQ is based, who is behind it, and - most shockingly - sets out in detail all the commercial rights that have been stolen from organisations across the world of sport and entertainment since beoutQ first appeared (August 2017)," stated beIN Media Group.
Beyond the harm suffered by beIN, can we quantify the impact of this piracy on a large scale for the sports industry ?
beoutQ will wipe billions of Euros off the value of global sports and entertainmentIf it’s not stopped quickly, beoutQ will get out of control and will wipe billions of Euros off the value of global sports and entertainment. If the piracy remains unpunished and continues to develop, international broadcasters, who invest millions of Euros in sport through exclusive media rights, will simply stop spending as much to acquire these rights if they can’t be protected.
Pay-TV channels and networks contribute to the funding of smaller sports structuresThe damaging consequence of reduced funding will not be felt solely by the rights holders such as the sports leagues and federations, but there will also be reduced investment in sporting events, clubs, and the grassroots game. It is truly the entire ecosystem of international sport that is impacted. The user of pirate solutions is unfortunately rarely aware, but pay-TV channels and networks are the major supporters of the sporting events they watch on television, while also contributing to the funding of smaller sports structures.
- Apart from this arbitration proceeding, what means are you using every day to fight beoutQ ?
We have invested millions of Euros in order to protect our contentWe have always given the utmost importance to the fight against piracy, in all its forms, regardless of media or geography. In this respect, we have invested millions of Euros to equip ourselves with the latest technology in order to protect our content; partnered with qualified service providers all over the world ; and developed an anti-piracy unit that monitors illegal use and retransmission of content internationally on a daily basis. This unit also reacts accordingly to stop hacking as quickly as possible, through digital solutions and, if necessary, legal proceedings.
beoutQ has enormous means and retransmission capabilitiesThis unit has been combatting beoutQ’s piracy for 18 months. It was able to establish the clear evidence linking beoutQ to Saudi Arabia and Arabsat. Nevertheless, despite several solutions put in place to counter this piracy, we still experience daily theft of our content by beoutQ, as do other broadcasters around the world. It must be remembered that beoutQ has enormous means and retransmission capabilities, thanks to the support of Arabsat, whose satellite frequencies are used by beoutQ. They are also supported by the Saudi government, which not only promotes beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts but also allows them to operate, develop and counter our solutions to continue stealing all our content.
An orchestrated attempt to conceal piracyWhat is perhaps most remarkable about the closely coordinated piracy operation of beoutQ and Arabsat is their embarrassing attempts to suggest it has nothing to do with them. We have seen absurd claims that the piracy is operated out of Cuba and Colombia (despite governmental bodies there definitively stating the contrary and clear evidence that beoutQ is a Saudi operation). And we have seen deliberate blackouts and repeated switching of the Arabsat satellite frequencies used by beoutQ when testing is being carried out, all in an orchestrated attempt to conceal the piracy. The pirates’ modus operandi is utterly transparent - hide behind the shield of the Saudi governmental authorities, who stand in the way of any effective local action against beoutQ, all the while disregarding the international rule of law, and carry on stealing content for as long as they can get away with it.
If countries ignore the law the whole system of international trade falls apartQuite clearly, if countries are permitted to ignore the rule of law with impunity, the whole system of international trade falls apart - that is why governments, regulators and organisations across the sports and entertainment industry are starting to take an interest. However so much more needs to be done and fast, as the brazen theft of the industry’s intellectual property continues largely unaffected every single day ; indeed it is only spreading.
- The Supercoppa Italiana was held in Saudi Arabia on 16/01/2019. beIN has, like other actors, announced its disapproval to the Lega Serie A. What was their reaction ?
There was widespread disapproval with the Supercoppa Italiana taking place in Saudi Arabia, and we saw calls from many quarters - the serving Deputy Prime Minister of Italy ; Italy’s former Minister of Sport; Amnesty International; women’s rights groups ; associations for the protection of journalists ; or quite simply from well-informed sports fans - all asking that Serie A reconsider the venue for the game.
The Serie A's decision was bafflingOur chief concern was quite simple : Saudi Arabia has been actively supporting a plague of piracy on world sports and entertainment. Given this fact, and the fact that beoutQ has stolen a significant number of the Serie A’s own matches and intellectual property, it wasn’t as much the organisation’s reaction as their initial decision which was baffling. Of all the countries in the world that they could have chosen to host the game, they chose the one country whose government is supporting the theft of Serie A’s own content.
- Does this type of decision (to play an official match in Saudi Arabia) lead beIN to reconsider its future broadcast partnerships with the rights holders ? You didn’t renew your rights for Formula 1 in the MENA territories. Have you considered their position toward piracy ?
Of course, we are very watchful of the rights holders’ positioning with regard to the piracy of their content and the theft of their intellectual property. Obviously, we cannot accept that they take a passive stance on this issue. Their commitment to protect the exclusivity they sell to us, through concrete steps including legal action, is taken into consideration when bidding or renewing our rights.
Formula 1: beIN MENA has decided not to extend its rights to broadcast Formula 1 (Tom Keaveny, beIN MENA)
• "beIN MENA has decided not to extend its rights to broadcast Formula 1 after the end of the season 2019. beIN MENA pays an estimated $30m to $40m (between €27m and €36m) per year for these rights, or nearly 7% of the total amount of audiovisual rights in Formula 1, according to the British consulting and studies firm Ampere Analysis.
• 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. We pay enormous amounts for media rights, but the natural consequence of Saudi Arabia's piracy is that those rights cannot be protected so we will pay less for those rights in the future - in particular to the rights holders who pay only lip service to combating beoutQ.
• We have been warning of the very real commercial consequences of beoutQ's theft of world sport and entertainment for almost two years now - yet the piracy continues with impunity every day and represents an existential threat to the economic model of the sports and entertainment industry. The international community must take decisive action to bring this State-supported (Saudi Arabia) piracy to an immediate end."
Tom Keaveny, managing director of beIN MENA, on 08/02/2019
- In general, do you feel supported by rights holders and industry associations in the fight against piracy ?
We are still far from finding a solutionMany rights holders and media players have joined beIN Media GroupbeIN Media Group in this fight and in denouncing the beoutQ piracy : FIFAFIFAFédération Internationale de Football Association, UEFAUEFAUnion of European Football Associations, all the European football leagues and many others have released statements against beoutQ and many are launching legal actions in Saudi Arabia. But we are still far from finding a solution because beoutQ exists with the support and protection of Saudi authorities.
The theft includes major French, UK and US sports, American blockbusters and global entertainmentEach rights holder and broadcaster must protect and enforce their intellectual property rights. And it is obvious that governments, digital players and broadcasting platforms all have a role to play. What is happening in Saudi Arabia is appalling. That a satellite operator and a state support a pirate network is entirely unacceptable. With the combination of both satellite and IPTV broadcasting, beoutQ is now available across the world, and the pirated content goes well beyond beIN. The theft includes major French, UK and US sports, American blockbusters and global entertainment. It is an issue that must be tackled by all affected organisations to preserve the value of our respective rights and the ecosystem of sport and entertainment.
|beIN Media Group
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