Dubai: BeIN Sports, the Qatar-owned broadcaster, went off air in the UAE overnight with viewers on du discovering on Saturday morning that they were no longer able to access the channels.
This is not the first time the network has been unavailable: Last summer due to the Qatar crisis, BeIN Sports, which is owned by Al Jazeera Media Network, was blocked in multiple Gulf countries.
“We are temporarily unable to show BeIN sports channels and packages due to a decision by the broadcaster BeIN Sports,” said du, which sells BeIN packages in the UAE, in a statement to it’s customers.
As a result, the company added that it had halted all new subscriptions of the package, and would not be charging subscribers for the period in which BeIN has been off-air.
Users were quick to point out the potential implications for the upcoming Fifa World Cup, set to begin on June 14. In July 2017, BeIN failed to show Wimbledon to its customers in the UAE, because it was taken off air following the breakdown in diplomatic relations between the UAE and Qatar.
“The way in which the rights to major sports tournaments are awarded is in a competitive bidding environment,” said Ed Hall, Managing Partner at Expert Media Partners, a London-based consultancy that has advised on the sale of sports broadcasting rights.
“Part of the obligation that the winning bidder enters into is about the amount of distribution the sport gets,” he told Gulf News over telephone. “On the face of it, you would imagine that in failing to distribute the sport, they’d be in breach of their contract.”