x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Subscribers unable to watch sports channels

OSN subscribers will be unable to view beIN Sport channels from Friday due to changes to the encryption used by the sports broadcaster.

Premier League fans were upset at missing Manchester Untited’s game against Fulham, among others. Michael Regan / Getty Images
Premier League fans were upset at missing Manchester Untited’s game against Fulham, among others. Michael Regan / Getty Images

ABU DHABI // Subscribers to a regional sports broadcaster may have to wait up to four weeks to get back their TV channels, if they are using an OSN set-top box.

Subscribers to Al Jazeera’s rebranded beIN Sports network have been unable to watch the range of channels using OSN set-top boxes since Friday.

Changes to the way the network is encrypted have been mentioned as the cause for the outage, although both broadcasters have refused to comment on the issue despite repeated requests.

Users with Etisalat, du and third party set-top boxes have been unaffected by the issue.

Users with an OSN set-top box use a card-based system to receive the channels.

OSN informed its customers on Twitter on Saturday, saying “beIN Sports/Al Jazeera changed their channel encryption which may affect your viewing. We are currently looking into the issue”.

OSN’s customers across the region, including the UAE, were told in a recorded message on their customer-care line to contact beIN sports directly for updates on the situation.

Customers of beIN Sports have been told by customer service to contact OSN because the fault lies on their end.

When users attempted to use their beIN cards in OSN boxes they were presented with the following message: “Sorry! Your current Receiver version is not compatible with this registration.”

The operators have received hundreds of messages on their social-media pages asking about the cause of the fault.

Each subscriber pays about Dh60 a month to receive beIN sports.

Both beIN sports and OSN have not yet confirmed how long the outage will last, how many customers are affected, or what is being done to rectify the issue.

Sports fans were unable to watch the weekend’s English Premier League football games and the Six Nations rugby.

“I’m a huge Liverpool fan so was very much looking forward to watching the game against Arsenal on Saturday,” said Christopher May, a British resident of Dubai.

“I went to the channel on Friday but there was no signal so I called OSN about the problem. I tried turning it off, taking my card out, but it didn’t work. OSN told me it was a technical issue that they were resolving.

“I followed them on Twitter and they had sent a message out saying ‘the big game is about to start, don’t miss it’, so I told them unfortunately I can’t.

“In fairness to them they did reply saying it was a technical difficulty.

“But I was left not able to watch the biggest win of my lifetime and instead ended up watching cross-country skiing.

“I wanted to watch the rugby as well. I am still no wiser as to what is happening,” Mr May said.

“I called the OSN customer service and the lady answered that they are working on the issue, and this should not take long time,” said disgruntled Dubai resident Eslam Shalaby.

“I waited for some time craving to watch the big clash between the Gunners and the Reds, with no change.

“I called them again and this time the gentleman was quite honest and telling me that beIN Sports changed the way they encrypt and hence this technical problem would not be sorted out soon, and that could take about four weeks.

“I expressed to him my level of frustration due to their lack of planning, professionalism and respect for their customer base,” Mr Shalaby said.

beIN Sports angered football fans in November last year when, despite promises on its website, the channel continued to show only one live English Premier League game on Saturday with English commentary.

ksinclair@thenational.ae