Qatar’s beIN caught offside in Turkish football viewing row

Akhisar’s players celebrate as they pose with the Turkish Ziraat trophy after the the Ziraat Turkish Cup final football match between Fenerbahce and Akhisar in Diyarbakir on May 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 07 August 2018
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Qatar’s beIN caught offside in Turkish football viewing row

  • The broadcaster, which recently came under fire from Egyptian fans for the high price of World Cup packages, has now also fallen foul of supporters in Turkey

ANKARA: Qatari-owned beIN has found itself in the middle of another major football broadcasting rights row — this time in Turkey.

The broadcaster, which recently came under fire from Egyptian fans for the high price of World Cup packages, has now also fallen foul of supporters in Turkey.

Some disgruntled fans unwilling to pay subscription fees had been watching games on Twitter’s Periscope live streaming service.

But now the service will be blocked countrywide during Super League football matches after beIN-owned Digiturk went to court in an effort to protect its exclusive rights.

Ihsan Inan, a football fan based in Istanbul, said the high costs of Digiturk football packages had discouraged people with low incomes from paying for packages.

 “In the past, the broadcaster companies possessing the exclusive rights were airing one match per week without subscription. It was a fairer way to reach football fans and to avoid free riders,” he told Arab News.

The move has also come under fire from cyber rights campaigners who said it represents the first case of online censorship in the country.

Efe Kerem Sozeri, a researcher on cyber rights, said the case was another step in the wrong direction.

“First and foremost, it is Periscope (Twitter) who are responsible for any copyright violation. They do have a policy against this, even a form for copyright holders to report violations,” he said. 

“From the court order, it is clear that beIN / Digiturk knows exactly which three accounts violated its rights, and its legal representatives could instead report these accounts directly to Periscope and get them suspended immediately. These accounts seem to be removed, making the court ban even more curious,” he added. 

Sozeri noted that there are legal services that monitor online broadcasts against copyrighted content and help to get them taken down.

YouTube, for example, has an automated system that recognizes copyrighted material and removes it even before it goes online.

“So there are technologies to protect copyrights, proper channels to report and take down violations much faster and more effectively, but Turkey has a hammer and treats every problem as a nail,” he said.

Sozeri added that such decisions only encouraged the public to look for more ways to bypass government-imposed viewing restrictions.

“Use of counter-censorship technologies, such as using proxy services, VPNs and the Tor network in Turkey has historically climbed after every such milestone decision that restricted the country’s online freedoms more.

Certainly this decision will have the same effect on Turkish users,” he said.

Ozgehan Senyuva, a social scientist working on sport politics from Ankara’s Middle East Technical University, said the Periscope match ban reflected the financial pressures facing the broadcaster.

“We have the lowest rate of attendance in stadiums compared to other European countries. The football teams, including the biggest ones, are on the verge of financial bankruptcy.” 

He said that many fans were not willing to pay to watch poorer quality football, leading them to free alternatives such as Periscope.

Digiturk was not immediately available for comment.


Qatari media incites boycott of Bahrain’s Palestinian workshop, but ignores leaks about own regime attendance

Updated 26 May 2019
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Qatari media incites boycott of Bahrain’s Palestinian workshop, but ignores leaks about own regime attendance

  • Experts predict that comments come as a result of Iranian and Qatari media propagating a negative view of the workshop, which is being falsely portrayed as an effort to force Palestinians to sell-away their right to a state
  • Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector

DUBAI: Qatari media has been upping the ante with articles and opinion pieces shedding negative light on the US-lead “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain, which led to Palestinian officials to have a negative view of the summit and urge other Arab states of boycotting it.

“We call on the countries that have agreed to attend the Bahrain workshop to reevaluate their decision,” the secretary of the PLO’s executive committee, Saeb Erekat, told Arab News in an interview yesterday. 

Experts predict that comments come as a result of Iranian and Qatari media propagating a negative view of the workshop, which is being falsely portrayed as an effort to force Palestinians to sell-away their right to a state. 

“‘A two-day international Peace to Prosperity economic workshop in Bahrain undermines #Palestinians and their calls for sovereignty’” read a tweet from Qatar-owned English version of The New Arab, a newspaper based in London. 

Another tweet by the same news website read: “In-depth: ‘Palestinian political and religious leaders have slammed Jared Kushner’s so-called Deal of the Century Israel-Palestine peace plan, due to be revealed in part in a controversial Bahrain summit‘”

While a Twitter poll from senior Al Jazeera New channel anchor Jamal Rayyan asked “Do you support Saudi Arabia, UAE and Israel’s organization of an economic conference in Bahrain to finance the deal of the century and the liquidation of the Palestinian cause?”

The results showed 71 percent against while 29 percent for.

Also, articles from Middle East Eye and Middle East Monitor – both Qatari-backed and pro-Hamas and pro-Muslim Brotherhood – have exaggerated the ‘failings’ of the workshop in Manama.

But while Qatari media has aggressively pushed against the Bahain summit, Israel-based Haaretz has published an article claiming that Qatar plans to attend and participate in the conference, which takes place on June 25 and 26.

No reports of Qatar confirming or denying the Haaretz article were found by Arab News.

Dubbed “Peace for Prosperity,” the conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.

Trump’s office said the conference was a “pivotal opportunity... to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”

The Palestinians see this as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.

“Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected,” Erekat said.

(With AFP)