Qatar's beIN media group on Wednesday stepped up its war of words against alleged Saudi-backed piracy, launching a website exposing what it says is wide-scale theft of its programmes. The "reveal all" beoutq.tv website went live with the aim of holding the pirate operation to account, a statement said. "What started out as a concerted and targeted campaign against beIN has now morphed into the largest commercial theft that's ever been seen in the world of sport and entertainment," Tom Keaveny, beIN's managing director in the Middle East region, said in the statement. "This Saudi-supported plague of piracy represents an existential threat to the economic model of the industry."
The website details programmes being illegally broadcast in more than 20 countries, a timeline of events and points the finger at several prominent Saudi figures under the headline: "The Saudi State-Supported Piracy of World Sport and Entertainment". BeIN has previously alleged that since August 2017 a vast and sophisticated Saudi bootlegging network known as "beoutQ" had been transmitting its stolen programmes via Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat. In October, beIN launched a compensation claim worth $1 billion against the Saudi piracy channel while Qatar filed an action at the World Trade Organization.
But no progress has been reported so far. FIFA and the Premier League said they were preparing to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against the pirates. Saudi Arabi has denied the claims and even said the piracy was operating out of Cuba. The latest move comes amid a 19-month economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar by Saudi Arabia and its allies which accuse Doha of backing terrorism and seeking closer ties with rival Iran. Qatar has refuted the claims. The website was launched on the day the Italian Supercoppa is played in Saudi Arabia's Red Sea city of Jeddah, which beIN has called on to be moved elsewhere because of the piracy issue. And on Thursday Qatar and Saudi Arabia meet in a politically charged Asian Cup football match in the United Arab Emirates, which backs Riyadh in the diplomatic dispute.
(With inputs from agencies.)