Qatar's beIN lays off over 100 staff due to lack of sports and 'rampant piracy'
Qatar's beIN Sports Media Group has cut more than 100 jobs citing disruption caused to sporting events by the coronavirus pandemic and "rampant piracy" of content that it has previously blamed on Saudi Arabia.
One of the world's biggest sports broadcasters, beIN operates channels across the Middle East, Asia, Europe, and North America, and holds the rights to an array of sporting events, leagues and tournaments.
But with most major sporting events, such as the English Premier League and France's League 1 either on hold or suspended, beIN announced on Monday that it was taking "difficult decisions in order to survive".
Bloomberg News reported that presenters, reporters and technicians were among those who have been laid off.
"Broadcasters around the world are making incredibly difficult decisions in order to survive – and beIN is not immune," a beIN spokesperson told Bloomberg.
The media group said it had started a "limited redundancy programme in relation to our MENA business" to secure its long-term future, adding that "rampant piracy" of content across the Middle East and North Africa had compounded the company's problems.
BeIN has repeatedly accused Saudi Arabia of masterminding the illegal broadcast of beIN output with a channel called beoutQ, which launched shortly after Riyadh imposed a blockade against Qatar in June 2017.
The controversial $380m takeover of Newcastle United by a Saudi consortium, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has been held up due to the piracy claims.
Last month, the Guardian reported that the sale appeared to be in serious doubt after the World Trade Organisation ruled that the country was responsible for the channel of pirated content.
Middle East Eye reached out to beIN Sports for comment but did not receive a response by the time of this article's publication.
Stung by the coronavirus crisis, several Gulf states have been forced to slash their workforce due to pandemic-driven lockdowns and declines in energy prices.
Qatar Petroleum, the world's biggest producer of liquefied natural gas, cut about 800 jobs, Bloomberg reported. Meanwhile, Qatar Airways said it was reducing basic salaries for non-Qatari pilots by as much as 25 percent and is poised to cut jobs in the coming weeks.