BeIN denies that Saudi Arabia lifted a three-year ban on the channel after news agencies reported such a move as part of the Gulf reconciliation.
Qatari TV channel beIN denies that Saudi authorities lifted a three-year ban on the channel after news agencies reported such a move as part of the recent reconciliation between the Gulf countries.
On Monday, Reuters news agency reported that several cafes and restaurants in Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh were using satellite dishes to broadcast English Premier League football matches on beIN sports channels.
However, beIN’s satellite TV signals were never completely blocked in Saudi Arabia, which allows continuous viewing with some software.
“There is currently no change in the situation of beIN SPORTS in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,” the channel said in a statement to Al Jazeera, adding: “However, we hope for positive steps to fully enable beIN to return to the country after the recent political reconciliation. ”
In July last year, the Saudi General Competition Authority permanently revoked beIN’s broadcast license after first doing so “temporarily” at the start of the blockade against Qatar.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt launched the blockade in July 2017, claiming Qatar was a sponsor of terrorism, while accusing Doha of fostering ties with Iran, its nemesis, deemed too close.
Qatar has denied the claims and rejected the quartet’s demands.
Earlier this month, the Gulf states took a decisive step in their deadlock and signed a reconciliation deal at a summit in Saudi Arabia.
However, it is not clear whether an agreement has been reached on the status of beIN and other Qatari media in the kingdom.
As of Tuesday, beIN’s website was still fully blocked in Saudi Arabia, and there was no official communication from Saudi authorities suggesting the channel’s license has been reinstated.
Global rule violation
Qatar lodged a complaint in 2018 with the World Trade Organization (WTO) regarding Riyadh’s blocking of the broadcaster in the kingdom and its refusal to take action against pirating of beIN content by beoutQ, a commercial-scale hacking operation.
A WTO panel last year concluded that Saudi Arabia had violated global intellectual property rights rules by not suing beoutQ, while supporting Riyadh’s view that it could block the Qatari broadcaster to obtain legal advice in the kingdom for reasons of national security.
Riyadh has repeatedly stated that it fights piracy and is committed to protecting intellectual property.
BeIN said Saudi Arabia is its largest subscriber base and largest trading market in the Middle East and North Africa.
A lawsuit, brought by beIN under international arbitration rules and claiming more than $ 1 billion in damages against Saudi Arabia, is still pending. The arbitration will take place in London.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that beIN will withdraw the case once the broadcaster is allowed to return to the kingdom, as part of a broader political reconciliation between the two countries.