The Premier League has taken steps to protect its lucrative TV rights deal in the Middle East, which is currently worth more than £400 million, by initiating legal action in Saudi Arabia against a pirate satellite broadcaster.
All twenty matches from the opening two weekends of the new season were shown illegally on the channel beoutQ, which broadcasts via the satellite provider Arabsat.
Arabsat is owned by the Saudi Government which has firmly denied being behind the piracy, However last week, Qatar-based beIN Sports, which owns exclusive rights to the Premier League in the Middle East and North Africa, produced evidence to show that the pirate channel is being broadcast by the Riyadh-based provider.
BeIN sports has had issues in the past with piracy in a number of major sporting events, including the Olympics, Wimbledon tennis and the Fifa World Cup 2018 in Russia.
The Premier League said in a statement issued that it had appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to prevent the theft of its Intellectual Property rights. It also threatened to bring legal action and said it had complained to the European Commission.
A spokesperson said: “The Premier League takes piracy in all its forms extremely seriously and is committed to working with its broadcast partners and regulatory authorities in territories around the world to stop the non-authorised exploitation of its content.
“As such the Premier League has appointed legal counsel in Saudi Arabia to begin the process of bringing legal action against the parties involved in this piracy.
“Given the strong copyright framework in Saudi Arabia, the Premier League is confident that the Saudi Arabian authorities will ultimately uphold its clear rights when the action is commenced.”
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