Saudi Arabia to lift ban on beIN Sports’ channels

Qatar-based broadcaster beIN Sports has said that Saudi Arabia will soon lift a four-year ban on the channel and has promised to close pirate websites.

beIN holds the rights to broadcast the Premier League across the Middle East but Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Competition (GAC) suspended its channels in 2017 and “permanently cancelled” the broadcaster’s licence last year amid a bitter dispute between Riyadh and Doha, which was resolved in January.

“We have been informed that Saudi Arabia’s 4.5 year illegal ban on beIN SPORTS is going to be reversed soon. We have also been approached by Saudi for them to settle our legal cases, including our $1bn investment arbitration,” beIN Media Group said in a statement.

The ending of the ban would remove a key obstacle behind the collapsed takeover of English Premier League (EPL) football club Newcastle United by the kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund (PIF).

beIN, which counts Saudi Arabia as its biggest market in the region, said on Wednesday that the kingdom’s ban was the TV channel’s “singular objection” to the Newcastle takeover.

It has to be noted that the Newcastle’s owner initiated legal proceedings against the Premier League earlier this year over the aborted takeover attempt that have been adjourned until early 2022.