Saudi Royal Court adviser confirms tough stance on piracy amid row over Qatar’s World Cup broadcasts

Saudi Royal Court adviser Saud Al-Qahtani. (CNN)
Updated 22 June 2018
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Saudi Royal Court adviser confirms tough stance on piracy amid row over Qatar’s World Cup broadcasts

  • In an interview with CNN, Saud Al-Qahtani commented on the allegations that Saudi Arabia has supported Beout Q, dismissing claims that it is Saudi Arabia’s responsibility to remove it from the Arabsat satellite.
  • The Royal Court adviser stressed the seriousness with which Saudi Arabia views the issue of piracy.

DUBAI: An adviser to Saudi Arabia’s Royal Court has underlined the Kingdom’s tough stance on piracy, following allegations that the country had supported a channel broadcasting World Cup games illegally.
The pirate channel, called “Beout Q,” has broadcast games for which the rights are held by Qatar’s BeIN Sports network, which is itself embroiled in a row over its coverage of the football tournament.
In an interview with CNN Arabic, Saudi Royal Court adviser Saud Al-Qahtani commented on the allegations that Saudi Arabia has supported Beout Q, dismissing claims that it is the Kingdom’s responsibility to remove it from the Arabsat satellite.
He told CNN: “First of all, who said that the ‘pirated’ broadcast is from Arabsat? And do we know even how the piracy was done? From my side, I have not read (anything) but accusations about the matter. Anyway, this is question that should be asked to Arabsat and not to me.”
He pointed out that Arabsat is affiliated with all members of the Arab League, and so questions over the Beout Q channel should not be addressed to Saudi Arabia alone.
The Royal Court adviser stressed the seriousness with which Saudi Arabia views the issue of piracy.
“The Kingdom respects the protection of intellectual rights and is committed to the international agreements in the context. It has also been known about the Kingdom how unforgiving it is about piracy,” he said.
“The piracy problem is an international one. There are many other states that took similar actions and confiscated piracy devices, like Kuwait and Oman. We cannot forget that there is a similar problem in several Asian and European countries as well. Above of all that, some videos show that Beout Q is diffused in Doha, even in public places.”
Regarding the Kingdom’s intention to launch a network of channels to compete with the Qatar-owned stations, Al-Qahtani said: “In Saudi Arabia, we do not take decisions based on reactions to what others do. Currently, what matters to us is for the broadcast rights of international sports competitions to be given fairly, ensuring that no state exploits the broadcast of games to pass political agendas on the account of Olympic protocols, as Qatar is currently doing.”
Al-Qahtani confirmed that Saudi Arabia is taking legal measures against the Qatar-owned BeIN Sports network for mixing sport with politics in its coverage of the ongoing football tournament.
Numerous comments by hosts and pundits aired on BeIN’s Arabic station prompted the Saudi Arabian Football Federation (SAFF) to complain to FIFA earlier this week, saying the Qatar-owned broadcaster was using the football tournament to spread political messages aimed at insulting Saudi Arabia and its leaders.
“The Qatari channel’s comments are a massive abuse against my country and the Saudi people,” Al-Qahtani told CNN Arabic.
“The Qatari monopoly has become a disaster to football fans. We are demanding an intervention to break the monopoly of BeIN Sports to avoid further aggravation.”
One BeIN commentator accused Riyadh of “selling the Palestinian cause,” while others called for an end of the diplomatic boycott of Qatar by the Anti-Terror Quartet — Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain.
Experts in the field of sports media earlier confirmed to Arab News that BeIN’s World Cup commentary was a breach of the rules and that Saudi Arabia will have a “case” in the complaint filed to FIFA.
“The ball is in the court of FIFA,” Al-Qahtani told CNN.
“We also demand the activation of Olympics protocols forbidding (BeIN) to use sports to pass its political agenda, as this has provoked the great anger of Saudi citizens and their Arab brothers who did not want the political differences to break into the world of sports.”
Many famous Arab sports players, media presenters, intellectuals and lawyers have signed a petition to protest against BeIN’s politicization of World Cup coverage, urging FIFA President Gianni Infantino to investigate.
More than 115,000 people have signed the petition — available at www.sports4everyone.org — in the past few days.
The website presents several examples of BeIN’s politicization of sports during the 2018 World Cup, with many during the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia.
Comments made during that game have been referred to international law firms to take legal action against those involved.
The SAFF demanded FIFA take vigorous action against the Qatari government, which owns the beIN Sports channels.
BeIN holds the rights to broadcast the World Cup across the Middle East and North Africa, but its channels are not available in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Qahtani said that his tweets criticizing Doha’s policies are directed at the Qatari rulers, and not the Qatari people, whom he considers as “victims” of the regime.
In the interview with CNN, Al-Qahtani noted that the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs was responsible for handling the Qatari issue, and that his statements are an expression of his own personal view.


CNN seeks hearing after White House again vows to rescind Jim Acosta’s press pass

Updated 19 November 2018
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CNN seeks hearing after White House again vows to rescind Jim Acosta’s press pass

  • Acosta’s credentials were revoked after Trump denounced him as a “rude, terrible person” during a Nov. 7 news conference
  • CNN challenged the move in court and on Friday won a ruling that temporarily reinstated Acosta

WASHINGTON: CNN on Monday called on a federal court to hold emergency proceedings after the White House said it would again revoke press access to correspondent Jim Acosta despite a temporary restraining order on Friday to reinstate him.
Acosta’s credentials were revoked after Trump denounced him as a “rude, terrible person” during a Nov. 7 news conference. CNN challenged the move in court and on Friday won a ruling that temporarily reinstated Acosta while the court considers the news network’s lawsuit over the ouster.
In a filing on Monday, CNN and Acosta asked for an expedited hearing next week after top White House communications officials told Acosta in a letter late on Friday that it had already decided to suspend his press once the two-week restraining order expires.
The White House opposed the request for an emergency hearing, writing in response to the court: “Not only is there no ‘emergency’ right now, it is impossible to know at this point whether next steps are necessary, much less what those steps should be.”
It said the White House expected to make its final decision on Acosta credentials by 3pm. EST on Friday.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders and White House communications chief Bill Shine had earlier told Acosta that it had made a “preliminary decision” backed by Trump.
When US District Judge Timothy Kelly temporarily restored Acosta’s credentials, he said the White House had failed to provide due process. He did not address any alleged violations of free speech, protected by the US Constitution’s First Amendment.
Trump, who has long blasted the media and often targeted Acosta, said on “Fox News Sunday” the judge’s decision was “not a big deal” and that the White House would establish rules for the press. Asked what they would entail, he said: “We’re going to write them up right now ... we’ll have rules of decorum, you know, you can’t keep asking questions.” Despite the filing, Acosta and CNN said they “remain hopeful” the dispute could be resolved outside of court, they wrote.
At the contentious news conference a day after Trump’s Republicans lost their majority in the US House of Representatives, Trump erupted into anger when Acosta questioned him about the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and a migrant caravan traveling through Mexico.