Saudi-Egyptian sports alliance to replace blocked Qatari beIN Sports

Updated 20 June 2017
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Saudi-Egyptian sports alliance to replace blocked Qatari beIN Sports

JEDDAH: The frequency of a new unencrypted sports TV network that will replace the blocked Qatari beIN Sports is set to be announced on Wednesday, Saudi Media City Chairman Muflih Al-Hafatah said on Twitter.
PBS Sport is launching in the region on Arabsat in alliance with Egypt and will be based in Cairo. Al-Hafatah described the channels as “Egyptian with a 100 percent Saudi capital.”
He tweeted: “New channels will be free as much as possible in accordance with what international laws permit.” He added that if encryption is required, the prices will be affordable for everyone.
A press conference is due to take place after next week’s Eid holiday, to offer further details about the new sports channels, Al-Hafatah said. The new PBS network will include 11 channels in high definition (HD). All channels will use the 4K-resolution technology.
PBS Sport announced on its official Twitter account that it has signed a contract with the Argentinian veteran footballer Diego Maradona to join the team of sports analysts, as well as the Saudi retired footballer Nawaf Al-Temyat.
The new channels will provide sports fanatics with a new service after the blocking or restriction placed on Qatar’s beIN sports channels, along with arms of the Al Jazeera news channel, in some countries amid the ongoing diplomatic row in the Gulf.
“Away from politics and ranging of our policies in our homeland, we won’t allow a state that sponsors terrorism to monopolize television entertainment in our Arab countries,” Al-Hafatah tweeted, in reference to Qatar.
The Qatar network broadcasts popular football tournaments such as Spanish La Liga and Copa del Rey, UEFA Europa League, and English Premier League.
Prices announced on the PBS Sport Twitter account are SR80 ($21) for monthly subscriptions, SR400 ($106) for six months and SR750 ($200) for a year.
What potential subscribers are looking for from the new service is a variety of sports analysis and commentary, and high quality in the broadcasting of games.
“Fast planning to establish high-quality new sports channels is challenging and needs time and preparation,” Khalid Attiya, 43-year-old football tournaments enthusiast, told Arab News.
Attiya currently has a beIN Sports subscription that he renewed on May 1, a month before the Qatari crisis, for which he paid SR1,350 ($360).
“I have not received any notification that my current subscription would be suspended,” he added.
Among the rights that beIN Sports has already bought were the 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup matches.
Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Awwad Al-Awwad had previously said that Saudis working at Qatar’s beIN would be compensated with local jobs in parallel positions.
The upcoming PBS Sport channels are now accepting job applications from new talents, particularly commentators and presenters, the PBS Sport Twitter account posted.


Twitter warns global users their tweets violate Pakistani law

Updated 11 December 2018
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Twitter warns global users their tweets violate Pakistani law

  • Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content its government found offensive
  • Pakistan banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots

WASHINGTON: When Canadian columnist Anthony Furey received an email said to be from Twitter’s legal team telling him he may have broken a slew of Pakistani laws, his first instinct was to dismiss it as spam.
But after Googling the relevant sections of Pakistan’s penal code, the Toronto Sun op-ed editor was startled to learn he stood accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad — a crime punishable by death in the Islamic republic — and Twitter later confirmed the correspondence was genuine.
His perceived offense was to post cartoons of the prophet several years ago.
Furey and two prominent critics of extremism in Islam say they are “shocked” to have received notices by the social media giant this past week over alleged violations of Islamabad’s laws, despite having no apparent connection to the South Asian country.
They say the notices amount to an effort to stifle their voices — a charge Twitter denies, arguing the notices came about as a result of “valid requests from an authorized entity,” understood to mean Pakistan, helped users “to take measures to protect their interests,” and the process is not unique to any one country.
But Furey is the third prominent user in the space of days to publicly complain about receiving a message linked to Pakistan.
The other two are Saudi-Canadian activist Ensaf Haidar and Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, a progressive Muslim scholar from Australia who was born in Iran.
Both are outspoken critics of religious extremism and have accused the social media giant of helping to silence progressive ideas within Islam.
Furey, who detailed his experience in a column for his newspaper on Saturday, told AFP: “I’m somewhat alarmed that Twitter would even allow a country to make a complaint like this, as it almost validates their absurd blasphemy laws.”
The tweet in question was a collage of cartoons of Mohammad that he posted four years ago.
“Looking back, I remember I did it right after there had been an Daesh-inspired attack in retaliation over the cartoons,” Furey wrote in his column, adding he had not posted similar material before or since.
Tawhidi meanwhile was sent a similar notice flagging a tweet that called on Australian police to investigate extremism in mosques following a deadly knife attack in Melbourne in November.
The scholar attached the legal notice sent to him by Twitter informing him of possible violations of Pakistani law, and tweeted: “I am not from Pakistan nor am I a Pakistani citizen.
“Pakistan has no authority over what I say. Get out of here.”
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Twitter told AFP: “In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a valid requests from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.”
The spokesperson added: “We notify users so that they have the opportunity to review the legal request, and the option to take measures to protect their interests.”
Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content its government found offensive.
It banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots.
Furey told AFP that although he was taken aback by the notice, “I’m at least glad they brought it to my attention that the Pakistan government has their eye on me.”
But he added: “One troubling consequence to all of this is that even people in countries without these blasphemy laws may start to self-censor for fear of the reach foreign governments will have over them in the online world.”