July 5, 2018 / 7:47 PM / 5 months ago

World tennis bodies accuse beoutQ of illegal Middle East broadcasts

FILE PHOTO: A logo is seen at the entrance to the International Tennis Federation headquarters, where the Tennis Integrity Unit is based, in London, Britain January 18, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville

DUBAI (Reuters) - The governing bodies of world tennis called for the closure of television channel beoutQ on Thursday, saying it had illegally broadcast tennis content across the Middle East and North Africa without the right to do so.

The International Tennis Federation (ITF), Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), and other bodies said in a statement that such “industrial-scale illegal piracy” risked damaging the value of broadcasting rights which help fund the sport.

The statement follows similar complaints about beoutQ from world soccer body FIFA, European soccer body UEFA and Formula One, which have also accused it of pirating content including the opening games of the World Cup.

“The world’s tennis governing bodies have joined forces to publicly condemn and call for the immediate closure of the illegal Saudi Arabian-based piracy operation, ‘beoutQ’,” the joint statement said. It said the content had been distributed by Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat.

Saudi Arabia has denied that beoutQ is based in the kingdom and said authorities are working to prevent beoutQ’s activities there.

BeoutQ could not be reached for comment. It is unclear who owns and operates the channel. Arabsat, founded in 1976 by Arab League member states, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Global sports network beIN Sports holds the rights to broadcast in the Middle East and North Africa major tennis tournaments and other major sport events such as the World Cup.

BeIN is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a boycott imposed on Qatar a year ago. Riyadh and Arab allies severed diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar in June 2017 over its alleged support of terrorism. Doha denies the accusations and relations remain openly hostile.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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