18 June 2019Copyright

Arabsat hits back at beIN claims; both parties claim victory

Saudi Arabia-based satellite operator Arabsat has hit back at Qatari broadcaster beIN Media’s account of a French court ruling in a lawsuit between the companies last week, as both parties continue to claim victory in the case.

Last week, WIPR  reported that beIN had announced a “major legal breakthrough” after the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris ruled that Arabsat had carried the alleged pirate outfit beoutQ’s programming on its channels.

In a statement issued on Saturday, June 15, however, Arabsat denounced what it called “false information” released by beIN regarding the ruling.

beIN sued Arabsat in the Paris court, claiming that the Saudi-based satellite operator carried beoutQ’s pirated programming on its frequencies, which beIN said were available in the southern region of France.

In last week’s ruling, seen by WIPR, the court said that the “slight spillovers” in the Arabsat satellites’ coverage into the south of French territory had “no practical impact” on the French public, as professional technical resources would have been required to extract a signal or data stream from them.

“It follows that beIN has failed to demonstrate the existence of a ‘manifestly unlawful disturbance’ or evidence of imminent harm that would justify granting its order against Arabsat … or the injunctions to enjoin it from broadcasting in France the beoutQ satellite signal,” the ruling said.

In a statement, De Gaulle Fleurance & Associés, which represented Arabsat in the case, said that the Paris court had “completely cleared” the satellite operator of the charges levelled by beIN.

Louis de Gaulle, partner at De Gaulle Fleurance in Paris, said that the court had “clearly ruled that Arabsat is not involved in the beoutQ pirate TV channels”.

beIN, however, is standing its ground in claiming victory from the case, arguing that the court endorsed the company’s technical reports which confirmed that beoutQ programming was available on Arabsat channels.

Speaking to WIPR, a beIN spokesperson reiterated the company’s position that the “single and sole purpose of this case was to have an independent court of law confirm that Arabsat carries beoutQ – this was confirmed clearly and beyond any doubt whatsoever”.

The Paris court did not explicitly rule that beoutQ was available on Arabsat frequencies, but acknowledged that the reports carried out by Nagravision on behalf of beoutQ provided enough evidence to establish that Arabsat had the legal capacity to be a defendant in the case.

The beIN spokesperson cited the passage in the ruling where the French court ruled that Arabsat could be a defendant in the case as evidence of beIN’s claim:

“Nagravision’s reports following the tests conducted at beINQ’s request conclude that beoutQ channels were available on 18 and 24 June 2018 on frequency 11919 MHz H and on frequency 12207 MHz V via the Badr-4 satellite, operated by Arabsat according to the company that performed these tests,” the judgment said.

The court also accepted Arabsat’s technical reports, however, which claimed to show that Arabsat’s frequencies could not be broadcast in France.

The court also ordered beIN to pay €25,000 ($27,963) in costs to Arabsat, and €6,000 to another defendant who has acted as a consultant for Arabsat.

In its statement sent to WIPR, beIN also cited the intervention of FIFA over the weekend, which warned Arabsat to stop broadcasting pirate coverage of the Women’s World Cup on its frequencies.

According to the FIFA statement, “BeoutQ’s unauthorised transmissions of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2019 are made available by way of Arabsat satellite frequencies”.

“FIFA is therefore seeking the cooperation of Arabsat in addressing the misuse of FIFA’s IP,” it continued.

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More on this story

15 July 2019   The organisers of the Wimbledon tennis championship have condemned alleged piracy of this year’s event on the beoutQ platform.
1 August 2019   Leading world football authorities believe they have exhausted all legal options in Saudi Arabia in their bid to crackdown on pirate broadcaster beoutQ.
17 September 2019   World football authorities claim to have proof that Saudi Arabia-based Arabsat is enabling pirate broadcaster beoutQ to operate, as they call on Saudi Arabian satellite providers to stop “providing a platform for piracy”.