Sky, BBC call for swift EU crackdown on Saudi pirate TV service BeoutQ

The BBC and Sky are leading calls for the Europe Commission to initiate formal proceedings against Saudi Arabia over BeoutQ, an alleged pirate TV service based in the country that offers illegal live streams of Premier League football and popular TV shows like Game of Thrones.

As reported by The Guardian, BeoutQ has grown from a Saudi-only streaming website to a “sophisticated international piracy operation” that first gained public notoriety when it illegally showed every World Cup 2018 match in the Kingdom.

Now, it is the subject of letters penned by the BBC and Sky to the European Commissioner for Trade, Anna Malmström, backing a formal EU protest to the Saudi government.

“The availability of the BBC channels and content via BeoutQ’s pirate activity will adversely impact BBC Studios’ ability to license these channels to partners throughout Europe and also the ability of our European partners to sell subscriptions to their television services,” the BBC’s letter to the European Commission reads, according to The Guardian.

Sky, for its part, has also announced its “full support” for the forthcoming EU protest – known in European political parlance as a ‘démarche’ – in a letter where it also highlights the “threats posted to European broadcasters…by a relatively new, but rapidly growing, source of audiovisual piracy, namely the BeoutQ service.”

This isn’t the first time BeoutQ has found itself in hot water.

The service is also at the centre of a $1bn lawsuit filed against Saudi Arabia by Qatar-based BeIN Media Group, which owns the rights to most high-profile sports content – including the Premier League and Champions League, as well as NFL and NBA games – in the country on a pay-TV basis.

The Saudi Ministry of Media had not responded to The Guardian’s request for comment at time of writing.

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