English Premier League broadcaster blames piracy for reduced match broadcasts

Al Jazeera Sports, the Middle East broadcaster of the English Premier League, is to give subscribers a new set top box after concerns its transmissions were being pirated

Arsenal's Mesut Ozil, centre, stumbles as he is fouled by Everton's James McCarthy, left, and Phil Jagielk during a Premier League game yesterday. AP Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth
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ABU DHABI // Al Jazeera Sport is to introduce a new set top box in January to tackle piracy concerns in a bid to restore live coverage of all English Premier League games.

Since last month viewers in the UAE have only been able to watch one live game on a Saturday at 3pm UK time – with no change to their subscriptions.

Al Jazeera Sport, which has the exclusive broadcasting rights for all 380 Premier League games for the next three seasons, explained its actions with a statement on its Twitter feed @ajsenglish.

It claimed the move was imposed by the Premier League over fears that the transmissions of Al Jazeera Sport and other global broadcasters were being illegally viewed in the UK.

“At Al Jazeera Sport we take piracy very seriously because it has an impact on so many people, including our subscribers,” the statement said.

“It is not something that only affects Al Jazeera Sport but impacts all broadcasters around the globe. We are working very closely with the Premier League in order to tackle piracy of our channel and this has led to the recent decision to reduce the number of Premier League games that we show on a Saturday.

“We hope that this cooperation will produce results as soon as possible, which may allow us to resume our normal schedule of games.”

The broadcaster also announced that next month it would introduce a new set top box that would be “secure” to help move towards a “piracy free situation as soon as possible”.

However, it was still unclear if the full complement of Saturday matches would be restored.

The announcement did little to allay the anger of Al Jazeera Sport subscribers, who pay up to Dh69 a month for the Premier League broadcasts.

“So are you going to reduce our subscription packages price? Seems unfair to advertise 380 Premier League games and not deliver,” said Twitter user Conan Gregory.

“@ajsenglish you’re doing this is leading us to live stream matches, will u do the same thing when the [World Cup] comes?” tweeted another user, Mohammed.