The Qatar-based network BeIN Media has been fined US$2.6 million by the Saudi Arabian General Authority for Competition and has cancelled its licence to broadcast in the country.
The Authority accused beIN Sports of requiring its subscribers to purchase multiple channels rather than only those viewers wish to see.
beIN offered year-long subscription packages during the Euro 2016 football tournament even if viewers only wished to watch the month-long action and Saudia Arabia claims this a breach of competition law.
This latest fine has been described as “manifestly politically motivated” by beIN and they released a statement saying that they are considering all legal options.
It is only the latest move in a long-gestating saga over sports rights in the Middle East.
beoutQ, a Saudi based channel, has been pirating the beIN broadcasts of major sporting events, such as the start of the English Premier League season.
beIN launched investigations and confirmed that Arabsat, a Saudi satellite provider, was distributing the pirated content on beoutQ.
beIN is the legitimate rights holder of the English Premier League across the Middle East and North Africa and has an agreement that runs until the 2021/22 season.
The English Premier League has written to the European Commission as part of the Sports Rights Owners Coalition to address this issue and has said it “will take all available action to support the investment made in the League by our legitimate broadcast partners.”
France’s Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) has also approached the Commission over beoutQ’s alleged piracy of Ligue 1 matches.