Saudi Arabia permanently cancels beIN Sports licence
It is also fining the channel almost Dh10m over 'practices that restrict competition'.
Saudi Arabia on Tuesday permanently cancelled the licence of Qatari broadcaster beIN Sports, which has been barred from broadcasting in the Kingdom since mid-2017 due to a dispute with Qatar.
The General Authority for Competition (GAC) said that it was also fining beIN Sports 10 million riyals (Dh9.7 million) for practices "that restrict competition".
"The GAC had conducted inquiries and investigations regarding complaints filed against BeIN Sports. The result of such investigation have been briefed as BeIN Sports abused its dominant position through several monopolistic practices with respect to potential subscribers to an BeIN's exclusive sports broadcast bundle of the 2016 UEFA European Championship matches," said a statement on the authority's website.
It said that these practices included the bundling of channels and a requirement for subscribers to advance renew for a full year to watch the 2016 tournament.
Saudi Arabia accused the sport channel of withholding the sale of a goods or the offer of a service until the purchase of another good or service had occurred, in reference to the way the channel's subscriptions were operated.
"This has been classified as a clear per se violation of the competition law and its Implementing Regulations. Consequently, the GAC Board of Directors took the necessary measures to stop such practices and eliminate the monopolistic violation that BeIN Sports has committed," said the statement.
The fine imposed by the GAC is the maximum under the law due to what they called "high damages" caused by beIN Sports. The decision said the channel's licence in Saudi Arabia is to be permanently terminated, that all financial gains from the violation are to be returned and that beIN Sports is liable for any fees associated with the case.
Saudi Arabia is involved in a proposed takeover of UK Premier League football club Newcastle United, with an expected 80 per cent investment from its sovereign wealth fund PIF.
beIN Sports currently has the rights to air Premier League games in the Middle East.
There was no immediate response from beIN or Qatari authorities.
Updated: July 15, 2020 07:13 AM