French court rules against BeIN Media, says no 'clear and illegal disruption' in piracy case against Arabsat
President of Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris court rejected all allegations made by Qatar-based broadcaster about the Saudi Arabia network's links to BeoutQ
A French court has said it found no evidence of "clear and illegal disruption" to the Qatar-based broadcaster BeIN Media's sports content by Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat).
Reuters reported Tuesday that it had seen court documents outlining that although the President of Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris found that signals from pirate channel BeoutQ were available on the Saudi-based satellite operator's frequencies, BeIN had failed to demonstrate that there was "immediate risk of commercial damage" that could justify forcing Arabsat to block BeoutQ's satellite signals in France.
Several global sports bodies, including football's world governing body Fifa and its European equivalent Uefa, have threatened legal action against BeoutQ over what they say are illegal broadcasts across the Middle East and North Africa, of which BeIN Media owns the rights. It is unclear who owns and operates BeoutQ.
Though the court documents did find piracy of BeIN Media's sports content had and continues to take place, it said that the Qatari broadcaster had failed to prove its case of "clear and illegal disruption" against Arabsat.
Arabsat, which is owned by Arab League states, has denied that BeoutQ uses its satellite frequencies for illegal broadcasts.
It welcomed the June 13 ruling, saying the French court's rejection of BeIN's claims had proven "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that the Qatar's allegations against Arabsat were false and that BeIN's lawsuit against was an attempt to "cover its technical failure to address media piracy".
Arabsat has a small presence in France, which enabled BeIN to file its complaint in Paris. BeIN was ordered to pay fees of 25,000 euros (Dh103,000) to Arabsat and 6,000 euros to an Arabsat adviser.
BeIN also welcomed the court decision, which a spokesman said would be used to support the company's filings in separate international investment arbitration cases.
Fifa said on Sunday that BeoutQ was transmitting matches from the ongoing 2019 Fifa Women's World Cup across the Mena region via Arabsat frequencies and called on the operator to help address the misuse of its intellectual property.
Following the French court's ruling on June 13, Arabsat called on international sporting federations to "not drift behind defamation attempts and misleading campaigns led by the BeIN ... whose reputation has been tarnished by criminal investigations in France and Switzerland on charges of corruption and bribery."
Nasser Al Khelaifi, chairman of media group BeIN and president of football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG), is under formal investigation in France for alleged corruption over Qatari bids to host world athletics championships. Yousef Al Obaidly, chief executive of BeIN and a board member at PSG, was handed preliminary charges of corruption by a French judicial court on March 28.
BeIN Sports is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a boycott the kingdom imposed on Qatar in June 2017. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt cut all ties with Doha over its support of extremist groups and its interference in other countries’ affairs.
Updated: June 18, 2019 11:21 AM