Egyptian court hits beIN Media with second hefty fine over anti-trust breach

Ahram Online , Tuesday 13 Mar 2018

The Qatari media channel has been found guilty of monopolistic practices in forcing Egyptian customers to switch satellites in order to watch major African and European football matches

File photo (Reuters)

The chief executive of Qatar's beIN Media Group, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, was fined by a Cairo court on Monday for breaching Egypt's anti-trust law, the second such penalty against the sports mogul in two months.

The court accuses beIN Media, the parent company of beIN Sports, of dominating the broadcast of major European and African football matches by forcing its Egyptian customers to replace their existing satellites with the Qatari Sohail satellite in order to obtain their services, a statement from the public prosecutor's office said.

The court said the practice contravenes an Egyptian law on competition and the prevention of monopolistic practices, and it levied a fine of EGP 400 million ($22.7 million) on Al-Khelaifi, who is also the president of Paris Saint-Germain.

The case was brought by the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA).

The fine is the second imposed on BeIN by Egypt, with the first given in January over the same violations.

The sports media company holds exclusive rights to broadcast major African and European football matches in Egypt and the Middle East. Matches featuring Egyptian teams who participate in African championship competitions can only be watched on the beIN Sports channels.

Monday's court decision, which can still be appealed, came amid unresolved tension between Qatar and Egypt.

Egypt was one of four Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, that severed diplomatic ties and transport links with Qatar in June, accusing Doha of supporting terrorist groups and meddling in the Arab nations' internal affairs. Qatar denies the allegations

Last year, Swiss federal prosecutors opened a probe involving Al-Khelaifi over suspected bribery linked to World Cup broadcast rights.

The investigation concerns alleged bribes offered to former FIFA secretary-general Jerome Valcke to award 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights to the beIN Media Group, according to the office of Switzerland's attorney-general.

Neither of them has been charged and both denied any wrongdoing.

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