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Saudi Ministry of Media Rejects Baseless Wimbledon Claims

Saudi Ministry of Media Rejects Baseless Wimbledon Claims

Saturday, 7 July, 2018 - 05:00
The Saudi Ministry of Media refutes Wimbledon claims about beoutQ broadcast.
Asharq Al-Awsat

The Saudi Ministry of Media has become aware of inaccurate — and irresponsible — accusations made by The Championships, Wimbledon in its July 5 press release regarding broadcast pirate entity known as beoutQ.

Wimbledon’s press release baselessly claimed that beoutQ is based in Saudi Arabia and suggested that Saudi Arabia is somehow complicit in beoutQ’s broadcasts.

Wimbledon’s allegations parrot those emanating from Al Jazeera Media Network and its subsidiary beIN Sports (“Al Jazeera”), Wimbledon’s exclusive licensee in MENA.

The Ministry rejects these allegations in the strongest possible terms.

Wimbledon’s press release alleges that beoutQ is an “illegal Saudi Arabian-based piracy operation,” but cites no sources or evidence for that allegation. The Ministry is aware of no such evidence.

The Ministry understands that beoutQ’s set top boxes are available in many places, including Qatar and perhaps Eastern Europe. beoutQ touts itself as based in either Cuba or Colombia.

Al Jazeera has long been banned from broadcasting in Saudi Arabia and is the most recognizable company in Qatar. Given the current diplomatic impasse between Qatar and numerous Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, claims emanating from Al Jazeera that beoutQ is based in the Kingdom are highly suspect.

Suggesting that Saudi Arabia is in any way complicit in beoutQ’s operation both offends the Saudi people and is a malicious lie.

Through its Ministry of Commerce and Investment, Saudi Arabia has relentlessly combated beoutQ’s activities within the country. For instance, the Ministry of Commerce has seized thousands of set-top boxes that would otherwise be used to violate intellectual property (IP) in the Kingdom. The government of Saudi Arabia is and will remain devoted to protecting IP rights within the country.

Wimbledon’s suggestion that Arabsat is facilitating or otherwise turning a blind eye to beoutQ’s operations is simply more Al Jazeera propaganda. While Arabsat has its headquarters in Riyadh, it is not controlled by the Saudi government all. Arabsat is a quasi-governmental entity of the Arab League, established by 22 of its members.

While Al Jazeera has repeatedly accused Arabsat in the media of facilitating beoutQ’s transmissions, to date Al Jazeera has provided no credible evidence that it has done so. To the contrary, Al Jazeera repeatedly points to the “unparalleled sophistication” with which beoutQ has easily overcome Al Jazeera’s and beIN Sports’ state-of-the-art anti-piracy technology. Blaming Arabsat for beoutQ’s sophisticated piracy is misplaced in the extreme.

Finally, Wimbledon’s press release includes various statements of solidarity with Al Jazeera subsidiaries beIN Sports or the beIN Media Group. These statements are virtually identical to statements promulgated by Al Jazeera as part of its irresponsible smear media campaign against Saudi Arabia.

We are disappointed that representatives of credible tennis associations are being used in the Wimbledon press release as mouthpieces by Al Jazeera, said the Ministry of Media.

For example, US Tennis Association representative Katrina Adams referred to beIN Media Group as a “key strategic partner.” Wimbledon and the various tennis associations quoted in the press release know or should know that, since June 2017, the Saudi government banned all broadcasts by Al Jazeera and its affiliates within the Kingdom because Al Jazeera is a media platform for terrorists to propagate their violent messages and to promote instability in the region. For example, Al Jazeera regularly hosts on its programs a well-known cleric who advocates suicide bombing and the killing of policemen.

Al Jazeera’s response to the ban has been to escalate a political campaign against Saudi Arabia. It has used beIN Sports’s 2018 FIFA World Cup broadcasts to defame the Kingdom, the Saudi Arabian football federation and national team.

For these reasons Al Jazeera, beIN Sports and their affiliates will never again broadcast in Saudi Arabia. Given Al Jazeera’s known role in supporting terrorism and its inability to provide any media content in Saudi Arabian territory, the Ministry of Media urges Wimbledon and the tennis associations to end their relationships with beIN Sports and other Al Jazeera entities.

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