Expert tests prove Arabsat not involved in illegal broadcasts of World Cup

The Saudi Arabian-based broadcaster has consistently denied accusations it allowed illegal broadcasts of the World Cup via pirate channel “BeoutQ”. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 July 2018
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Expert tests prove Arabsat not involved in illegal broadcasts of World Cup

  • Multiple tests by experts confirm Arabsat frequencies were not used for illegal World Cup broadcasts
  • Arabsat’s CEO demands immediate retraction and apology from FIFA after research vindicates broadcaster

RIYADH: The Arab Satellite Communications Organization (Arabsat) this week told FIFA that an investigation performed by seven independent satellite communications experts has confirmed its satellite frequencies were not, and have not been used by an entity operating as “beoutQ” for illegal broadcasts of 2018 FIFA World Cup matches. 
The detailed letter to FIFA sent on Arabsat’s behalf summarized the evidence, which conclusively showed the falsity of FIFA’s claim that Arabsat had been “distributing” beoutQ’s pirate broadcasts.  “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.” 
Arabsat’s letter to FIFA detailed specific tests showing why FIFA’s claims that beoutQ was operating on specific Arabsat frequencies at specific times were wholly wrong.  The statement explained that, FIFA had claimed beoutQ was operating on Arabsat frequency 12341 MHz for several World Cup matches.  But tests conducted by several independent satellite communications experts showed that that frequency carried no video content at all at the very dates and times asserted by FIFA.   
Likewise, FIFA asserted that beoutQ broadcast different matches on Arabsat frequency 11996 MHz.  Again, Arabsat’s technical experts demonstrated that FIFA was wrong.  Arabsat’s experts showed that blocking the frequency had no effect on beoutQ’s pirate World Cup broadcasts, and that only legitimate broadcasts (including BBC, Sky News and CNBC) were available on that frequency – not beoutQ. 
Arabsat’s tests also showed 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,” Balkheyour said, “but beoutQ’s World Cup broadcasts continued.”  This strongly suggests that beoutQ used a different, non-Arabsat satellite to broadcast the offending content. 
“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,” added Balkheyour.   
The statement added that the experts’ findings had deepened Arabsat’s conviction that beIN Sports, a subsidiary of Al Jazeera, was behind allegations that Arabsat satellites had been used by beoutQ.  Arabsat believes that beIN Sports contrived the allegations as part of a smear campaign to deflect attention away from its technological inability to prevent beoutQ’s piracy.
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.”


WhatsApp to clamp down on ‘sinister’ messages in India

Updated 53 min 7 sec ago
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WhatsApp to clamp down on ‘sinister’ messages in India

NEW DELHI: Facebook-owned WhatsApp assured the Indian government on Tuesday that it would develop tools to combat the problem of fake messages, the country’s information technology minister said.
India has stepped up efforts to crack down on mass message forward after it found that people were using platforms such as WhatsApp to stoke public anger. False messages circulated on WhatsApp have led to a series of mob beatings across the country this year.
WhatsApp chief executive officer Chris Daniels met India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday, assuring the government of a solution.
Prasad told reporters he had asked WhatsApp to develop a detailed mechanism to trace the origin of any such “sinister” messages.
“It does not need rocket science to locate a message,” Prasad said after his meeting, adding that WhatsApp had said it was working with law enforcement agencies to develop its systems.
A Facebook spokeswoman in India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users and one where it says people forward more messages, photographs and videos than any other country.
There are also concerns that supporters of political parties could use social media platforms such as WhatsApp to spread false messages in the run-up to India’s national elections in 2019.
Following calls from the government to stem the platform’s misuse, WhatsApp has moved to deter mass message forward and launched an advertising campaign to educate consumers.
In July, WhatsApp said message forward will be limited to five chats at a time, whether among individuals or groups, and said it will remove the quick forward button placed next to media messages.