Qatar-based beIN Sports has taken a lawsuit against Lebanese TV station, Tele Liban, over their airing of World Cup matches without consent.
beIN Sports holds the exclusive rights for broadcasting the 2014 World Cup across the Middle East and North African region – 22 countries in all.
The rights to broadcast the World Cup games in Lebanon were awarded to Lebanese firm Sama, who priced the World Cup-package at more than $100 per household.
After a public outcry over the cost, the government stepped in to broker a deal with Sama and agreed to pay them $3m to give broadcasting rights to Lebanese TV cable providers.
However, the deal still left some without access to the games, in particular those who did not have the satellite channels.
Tele Liban stepped in and started broadcasting the World Cup matches from June 16, the date when all cable stations were allowed to broadcast the games.
beIN Sports has now lodged a case against Tele Liban, which came before the courts this week.
Tele Liban director Talal Maqdessi, speaking to reporters outside the Justice Palace, said the state broadcaster “will defend its rights and the rights of Lebanese citizens”.
“FIFA is a non-profit organisation,” he said. “It has enough advertisers to collect hundreds of millions of dollars; it does not need to intimidate the Lebanese poor.”
Maqdessi said a decision was issued in Europe in 2012 saying World Cup matches should not be given exclusive broadcasting rights.
He said they respected the law and would wait for beIN Sports to demonstrate that their exclusive broadcasting rights were violated.
“It’s impossible to deprive the audience from watching the World Cup,” he said.
He confirmed that, regardless of the lawsuit, Tele Liban would broadcast the remainder of the World Cup games.
The lawsuit case was adjourned until July 4.