By Daniel Shane
The UK's top football league is believed to have made the move in order to combat piracy
Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera Sport has seen its live coverage of the English Premier League limited as a result of illicit access to its satellite feeds in the UK.
Al Jazeera Sport in July beat out rival Abu Dhabi Media to win the rights to broadcast live all 380 league games for the next three seasons in a deal worth more than $360m.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the organising body for the top tier of English football requested that Al Jazeera reduce its coverage on Saturdays to just one 15:00 match, rather than the full roster. The decision means that subscribers, who pay around AED60 ($16) per month for Premier League coverage, will only be able to watch about half of the season’s remaining fixtures.
A source told the WSJ that the measure had been put in place as Al Jazeera subscription cards were being sold and shipped to the UK, where owners of bars and pubs were using them with generic set-top boxes to receive Al Jazeera’s live feed.
The source added that the limitations would not be lifted until Al Jazeera had put in place sufficient anti-piracy provisions.
"We have become aware that live broadcasts of Premier League football intended for certain overseas territories are, in a small number of cases, being re-transmitted in the UK," the Premier League said in an emailed statement to the newspaper. "We are working with some of our international broadcast partners to address this."
A representative for Al Jazeera Sport did not immediately respond to Arabian Business’s request for clarification on the matter.
The decision from the Premier League comes weeks after it signed £3bn worth of deals that handed live coverage rights in the UK to BSkyB and BT Sports.
This is not our problem! In the UK the limitations are there to encourage more fans in the stadiums, here that isn't an option so all matches SHOULD be televised. I hope Al Jazeera Sports take quick action and refuse this request.
Considering we have committed to 12 months at 70-odd AED a month for all the games live, I would very much like to see that honoured!
Why should we be denied the right to watch our choice of matches when we have prepaid to do so for the complete season? If AJS and their distributers have not blocked the loopholes in their system, it their fault and not that of the prepaid viewers. This unilateral censorship of our legitamite right to viewership is illegal and unlawful on the part of the Premier League and its distributers.
This is disappointing for supporters of what would be considered 'B' category teams as less than 50% of their games will be shown live. For someone like myself, a Sunderland fan, I expect I wont see my team that often. I made an upfront commitment to Al Jazeera Sports to pay the AED 70 a month. I'll now seek a way to cancel this contract although i'd imagine it wont be easy.
I'm very angry with Al Jazeera for allowing this to happen. Also there was no notification of the problems. I'm also a Sunderland fan, in KSA and I paid an up front cost for the aljazeera install. Last weekend I even registered with the online service to watch the match but it didn't work. Don't bother with customer service which is useless (if they respond). Take my advice, cancel your subscription and use Vipbox online for free.
This illicit access by pub and clubs owners in the UK has been going of for years. Breweries should be fined heavily if their outlets are entering into these illegal acts and it should not be the paying subscribers who should be penalised. MONEY BACK PLEASE!!!
im cheesed right off. look fwd to my saturdays watching a rejuvenated saints team play the best passing football in the prem and now here i am sat watching boring chelsea against championship contenders palace.
when al jaz got the prem i was dubious considering the rubbish broadcasts they have done in previous world cups but was pleasantly surprised by how good it was compared to AD sports where you never knew which channel your game was on.
now this. great work al jaz.
Retail Distribution Outlets in Abu Dhabi are tight-lipped about this curb on EPL, and the one I subscribed too, asked me to bring my Sat Receiver to their shop, apparently unaware of ban.
The outrageous element of this story is that AJ and the relevant suppliers of the channels have not even acknowledged that this is happening. The only source of acknowledgement is via Richard Key's twitter account. The ME buyers of the services are the only ones being punished by the EPL here - we have paid and we are not getting our service. The EPL probably thinks that AJ are having to compensate / refund their customers - but instead they are doing nothing whatsoever. As it stands, the Aj coverage is vastly inferior to the other channels in so far as the provision of information / scheduling / getting the language right / getting the channels right / keeping the commentary going. Where is the proper investigation into this.