Arabsat demands FIFA apology over World Cup piracy claims

The Saudi-based Arabsat has accused Qatari-owned BeIN Sports of a 'smear campaign'
Arabsat demands FIFA apology over World Cup piracy claims
“Arabsat has always been confident that our satellite network has not been used by beoutQ,” said Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s CEO.
By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Tue 17 Jul 2018 09:05 AM

An investigation carried out by seven independent satellite communications experts has found no evidence that satellite frequencies belonging to the Riyadh-based Arab Satellite Communications Organisation were used for illegal broadcasts of the World Cup by ‘beoutQ’, Arabsat announced on Monday.

Broadcaster BeIN Sports had earlier claimed that beoutQ was using an Arabsat signal to illegally transmit its broadcasts since last October, appearing in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Jordan and countries further afield.

The allegation was later repeated by FIFA, world football’s governing body.

Four days before the end of the tournament on Sunday, FIFA announced it was preparing to take legal action against pirate broadcasters in Saudi Arabia.

In a letter sent to FIFA on Arabsat’s behalf, the organisation presented evidence is says “conclusively” shows that FIFA’s allegations are inaccurate.

“Arabsat has always been confident that our satellite network has not been used by beoutQ,” said Khalid Balkheyour, Arabsat’s CEO.

“Nevertheless, we undertook a very costly investigation to eliminate any doubts and to provide evidence to share with FIFA and the world.”

The Arabsat letter detailed specific tests which it claims show why FIFA’s allegations that beoutQ was operating on specific Arabsat frequencies at specific times were wrong.

The Riyadh-based satellite firm said FIFA claimed that beoutQ was broadcasting on Arabsat frequency 12341 MHz for several matches. However, Arabsat’s investigation purports to show that no video content was carried on the dates and times specified by FIFA.

Arabsat also said that its investigation shows that other satellite carriers might be carrying beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts.

“We received one set of test results in which our expert blocked all Arabsat frequencies, but beoutQ’s World Cup broadcasts continued,” Balkheyour said.

“Arabsat is entirely vindicated in its decision to undertake its comprehensive investigation before taking the drastic step of shutting down satellite transponders, as FIFA had demanded.”

Smear campaign

In a statement, Arabsat said that the findings have “deepened” its belief that BeIN Sports - a subsidiary of Al Jazeera, is “behind allegations that Arabsat satellites have been used by beoutQ.

“Arabsat believes BeIN Sports contrived the allegations as part of a smear campaign to deflect attention away from its technological inability to prevent beoutQ’s piracy,” the statement said.

“Arabsat has demanded that FIFA immediately issue a public retraction of and apology for its claims that Arabsat was somehow complicit or did not do enough to stop beoutQ.

“Arabsat has been deeply offended and harmed by BeIN’s and FIFA’s attacks,” Balkheyour said.  “Now that FIFA has been proven wrong, it should apologize for making such offensive statements.”

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