DOHA: Qatar broadcasting giant beIN said yesterday it will stop broadcasting programmes on its only cable network in Egypt, CNE, a move that could affect hundreds of thousands of viewers.
The move comes amid a 19-month diplomatic regional crisis between Qatar and regional powers including Egypt, which has also seen the Doha-based sports broadcaster pitted on the frontline during the dispute.
“BeIN SPORTS announces that after lengthy negotiations and having tirelessly tried to agree reasonable commercial terms with Cable Network Egypt (CNE) — including acting in considerable good faith by granting the network multiple extensions to conclude the renewal process-CNE steadfastly refuses to agree such terms,” said beIN in a statement.
“As such we are unable to provide our services on CNE as of January 8th, 2019 until such time that CNE agrees reasonable terms.” BeIN provided several sports via CNE including English Premier League football games, Champions League, major tennis tournaments, NBA and Formula One.
It is thought up to as many as 300,000 viewers used the service. One source said talks on new commercial terms had been ongoing for two months. Since June 2017, a group of countries including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt have led a political and economic boycott of Qatar.
The countries accuse Doha of supporting “terrorist groups”, including the Muslim Brotherhood, which the current leadership in Egypt deposed, and of seeking improved relations with Saudi’s arch regional rival Iran.
During the dispute beIN has launched a $1-billion compensation claim against Saudi broadcasters who it accuses of playing a central part in a vast piracy operation by illegally showing hundreds of live sports programmes.
Last January, an Egyptian court imposed a $22-million fine on beIN for “violating anti-trust regulations”. BeIN’s CEO Nasser al-Khelaifi, who is also president of Paris Saint-Germain football club, was also fined 400 million Egyptian pounds as part of the ruling. – AFP