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.


Arab News launches ‘Road to 2030’ section to track Saudi Arabia’s bold reforms

Updated 42 min 16 sec ago
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Arab News launches ‘Road to 2030’ section to track Saudi Arabia’s bold reforms

  • Section to provide news, opinion and analysis on country’s transformation
  • Newspaper’s National Day coverage looks ahead to 
Kingdom’s high-tech future

RIYADH: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English-language daily, today announces the launch of a digital service to track and explain the ambitious reforms underway in Saudi Arabia.
Announced on the eve of Saudi National Day, the new “Road to 2030” section will include the latest news, analysis and opinion around the reforms and transformation underway in the Kingdom.
Hosted on the paper’s website, the section  —  www.arabnews.com/road2030 —  is named after the Vision 2030 program unveiled in 2016 by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is the Kingdom’s heir to the throne. 
It coincides with Arab News’ special coverage of Saudi National Day, which marks the formation of the Kingdom on Sept. 23, 1932.
The theme of the souvenir edition, published on Sunday, will be around the future of the Kingdom —  and how the country will look as the 2030 reforms continue to take shape. 
The edition of the newspaper features a unique wrap-around cover illustrating how the country could look in 12 years’ time, as well as a timeline about the reforms and articles about their progress and young people’s views on the future of Saudi Arabia. 
 “We decided to not to limit our Saudi National Day to celebrating the Kingdom’s past —  but to also look ahead to its bright and promising future under the ambitious Vision 2030 plan,” said Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News.  
“This is reflected via the newspaper’s commissioned cover artwork, which imagines Saudi Arabia in 12 years’ time, as well as the stories by our promising team of young Saudi journalists and contributors. 
“We are also proud to launch the Road to 2030 section, which will track the changes underway in the Kingdom and be a reference for observers, visitors and investors in Saudi Arabia.”
Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for over 40 years.