Formula One: Probe under way into illegal broadcasts in the Middle East by beoutQ

Formula One said it is looking into alleged illegal broadcasts of its races by TV station beoutQ.
Formula One said it is looking into alleged illegal broadcasts of its races by TV station beoutQ.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE (REUTERS) - Formula One is investigating alleged illegal broadcasts of its content in the Middle East and North Africa by a TV station already accused of pirating World Cup and European football.

A Formula One spokesman said content belonging to regional rights-holder, Qatar-based beIN Sports, had been transmitted by beoutQ.

"Formula One takes intellectual property infringement of this nature extremely seriously, we are looking into the issue and those that are involved and will take appropriate action," Formula One said in a statement at the French Grand Prix.

European football body Uefa has threatened action over beoutQ's airing on Riyadh-based satellite provider Arabsat of the World Cup in Russia, as well as the Champions and Europa Leagues.

Uefa alleges beoutQ is illegally using content from beIN Sports, which holds the regional rights but is blocked in Saudi Arabia under a boycott of Qatar by Riyadh and its Arab allies.

World football body Fifa has also accused beoutQ, which is widely available in Saudi Arabia, of illegally broadcasting the opening games of the World Cup.

Saud al-Qahtani, a senior adviser to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has called the piracy charges "baseless" and "unfounded", while accusing Qatar of trying to divert attention from the dispute with its neighbours.

The boycott is over Doha's alleged support of terrorism, which the Qataris deny.

The Middle East has two Formula One races, in Abu Dhabi and Bahrain. The region is also a major market for luxury car manufacturers like Mercedes and Ferrari.

Formula One's commercial rights are owned by American company Liberty Media.