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BeIN Media offering more FTA World Cup as piracy dispute rolls on

BeIN Media is broadcasting 22 matches from the FIFA World Cup in Russia free-to-air as the Qatar-based pay TV broadcaster continues to be plagued by pirate service BeoutQ, broadcasting from neighbouring Saudi Arabia.

BeIN announced the extension of its free-to-air plans at the start of the competition, with 22 matches made available unencrypted on its free channels, describing the move as “a clear statement and gesture of goodwill” to make its content widely available to Arabic audiences.

FIFA meanwhile has indicated that it may take measures to combat BeoutQ’s illicit broadcasts.

“FIFA is aware that a pirate channel named BeoutQ has illegally distributed the opening matches of 2018 FIFA World Cup in the MENA region,” the football organisation said.

“FIFA takes infringements of its intellectual property very seriously and is exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organisations that are seen to support such illegal activities. We refute that BeoutQ has received any rights from FIFA to broadcast any FIFA event.”

BeoutQ – a clear reference to BeIN’s brand – has been selling subscriptions to 10 satellite channels carrying premium live sports from BeIN and other broadcasters.

According to BeIN Media, the outfit has also recently launched an illicit IPTV app that provides access to hundreds of pirated channels around the world, including not only BeIN channels but the services of other major global brands.

BeIN says Saudi Arabia-based satellite operator Arabsat has refused to take down the service and denies liability, despite it and other rights holders providing evidence.

“It is our honour and pleasure to offer free-to-air access to 22 FIFA World Cup matches, offering the most memorable moments of the World Cup to millions of football fans across the Middle East and North Africa,” said Nasser Al Khelaifi, chairman and CEO of BeIN Media Group of the extension of its free-to-air coverage of the World Cup.

“Our region has some of the most passionate, dedicated and knowledgeable football fans in the world, and we are delighted to be able to open up access to the tournament to the multitude of fans who will tune in across region over the coming weeks. This is the first time we have made our content so widely available as we realize how significant and unifying this tournament is for our region.”