Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday that it permanently cancelled the licence of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, which has been barred from broadcasting in the kingdom since mid-2017 over political disputes with Qatar.
Saudi’s General Authority for Competition (GAC) said in a statement that it was also fining beIN Sports 10 million riyals for practices ‘that restrict competition’.
GAC’s decision comes after it launched an investigation into complaints accusing beIN of “monopolistic practices” during the European Football Championship 2016.
The GAC clarified that the decision is based on the tasks and competencies assigned to it in protecting and encouraging fair competition and combating monopolistic practices, as well as to achieve the principle of transparency.
The action was taken against Qatar’s sports channel after conducting investigations into complaints against the channel which concluded that beIN Sports had found involved in several monopolistic practices, harming the right of those wishing to watch the exclusive broadcast of the UEFA Championship.
According to reports, the authority identified several violations, including forcing those, who wish to subscribe to watch the package, to subscribe to another package that includes non-sports channels; and forcing those wishing to subscribe to renew their subscription to their basic package for another full year, as a condition for viewing the Euro 2016 tournament, although their subscription period is valid and covers the period during which the said tournament was held.
The beIN Sports also included the costs of tournaments and sports that the subscribers may not want to follow in the value of subscription in the sports channels themselves and thus the subscribers are forced to bear additional costs within the value of the subscription, reports said.
According to the GAC, this is an explicit violation of the Competition Law and its executive regulations, and, accordingly, the authority’s board of directors has taken the necessary measures to stop the practices and eliminate monopolistic violations committed by beIN Sports channel group.
However, beIN Sports channels failed to implement the provisions of the punitive measures taken and challenged this decision before the Administrative Court in Riyadh.
The court rejected the lawsuit filed by beIN Sports against the GAC. Eventually, the authority’s board of directors decided to lodge a criminal suit with the committee to examine and adjudicate violations of the provisions of the Competition Law against beIN Sport