BEIRUT: Tele Liban’s Monday court session was postponed to July 4, when the state-sponsored channel will face a lawsuit filed by BeIN Sports over broadcasting the World Cup.
“FIFA is a nonprofit organization,” Tele Liban’s director Talal Makdessi told reporters while walking out of the Justice Palace in Beirut Monday. “It has enough advertisers to collect hundreds of millions of dollars; it does not need to intimidate the Lebanese poor.”
Makdessi said his channel respected the rule of law and would wait for the plaintiff to demonstrate that their exclusive broadcasting rights were violated.
“It’s impossible to deprive the audience from watching the World Cup,” he said.
Makdessi confirmed that Tele Liban would be broadcasting the remaining games regardless of the lawsuit.
BeIN Sports had granted exclusive broadcasting rights to the Lebanese firm Sama, who priced the World Cup-package at more than $100 per household. After public outcry over the expensive package, Telecommunications Minister Boutros Harb announced that the state would pay $3 million to Sama to cover the company’s losses and give broadcasting rights to Lebanese TV cable providers.
The deal between the ministry and the company still left some Lebanese without access to the World Cup, notably those who possess their own receivers or others who do not have any access to satellite channels at all.
As a result, Tele Liban's head Talal Makdessi decided to broadcast all the World Cup's matches, saying he would sacrifice his job for the sake of providing the Lebanese in general, and the poor specifically, with the chance to watch the world’s most popular sports tournament.