By Fatih Erel
ISTANBUL (AA) - Turkey needs to crack down on digital piracy, which is costing the Turkish sports industry and satellite television some 500 million Turkish liras ($84 million) a year, said an executive at Digiturk, a leading satellite broadcaster.
Digiturk is the leading Turkish satellite television provider that is part of the global sports and entertainment group, beIN MEDIA GROUP.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency in a beIN SPORTS studio in Istanbul, Saad Saleh Al-Hudaifi, the executive vice president at Digiturk Sports Content, said "Piracy is the main enemy for any broadcaster companies. We are suffering from piracy also internationally not only Turkey."
Noting that not only broadcaster but also the clubs lose money from piracy, Al-Hudaifi said Digiturk and Turkish sports industry have been losing 500 million Turkish Liras ($84 million) per year from piracy in Turkey.
"If you divided between tax and the dedicated amount to the clubs, that means we are losing 64 million Turkish liras ($10.7 million) that we are supposed to pay to the government and 420 million Turkish Liras ($70.6 million) to the clubs," he said.
"Piracy is the main issue that we are facing. We need to find a solution," he added.
"Turkey's Youth and Sports Minister Mehmet Muharrem Kasapoglu is working on this subject (pirate broadcasting). With his support and collaboration, we will probably reach an agreement or we will be ready to suggest the implementation of new laws that protects us," he said.
- Video assistant referee system
On criticisms of the Turkish Super Lig's Video Assistant Referee (VAR) System, Al-Hudaifi said: "We do not have any authority to manage VAR system in Super Lig. We do not have any power even to select the footages. All the cameras linked directly to TFF in Riva. TFF assigned a team for each match. They are the ones who contact the referees, they are the ones selecting the footage."
beIN SPORTS, which is a global player and comply with all international and local procedures concerning the VAR System, operates according to the instructions provided by TFF, he said.
"Do we hide any footages? Absolutely not. We are sharing all the footage. If there is any question about the VAR, it should be addressed to TFF," he said.
There is no one from beIN in Riva. beIN SPORTS has no control or influence over VAR or any refereeing decisions as well as that supposition is technically impossible, Al-Hudaifi noted.
"The footages of all our cameras which we use for match broadcasting are transferred to the VAR Room in Riva by the authorized team of TFF and over the technical infrastructure they have established themselves," he said.
"VAR system will help football absolutely. We need to be patient and support this idea," he added.
Regarding the interviews, he said "This year we are very successful in special interview procedures after and before the matches. All the head coaches and players are coming to the interviews on time. There is no issue comparing the previous year."
About drawing the offside line on the footages, he said "The offside line is drawn by the VAR operator. We just bring it to the screen."
- Sharing copyrighted content
Super Lig clubs protested that they were not allowed to share copyrighted content from their social media accounts a few weeks ago.
Regarding the issue, Al-Hudaifi said: "We are an institution that always tries to give priority to the demands of the clubs and their fans, who are the most important stakeholders of the Turkish football."
"We allow all the Super Lig and 1st League clubs a 1-minute copyrighted content sharing per month," he said.
"We have certain rules we said to them. You can broadcast what you want but, you can not attack another club or referees. You can not damage the brand. They are collaborating with us," he added.
- Broadcasting agreement
Even though there were claims that beIN SPORTS would withdraw from the broadcasting agreement at the beginning of this season, such an incident did not occur. However, the terms of the contract were revised.
For the other possible similar revisions in the new season, he said: "We will have a meeting with the Turkish Football Federation in May, in accordance with a mutual agreement which all parties signed at the beginning of the season."
- Super Lig without main sponsor
"Super Lig must be an initiative led by many parties not Digiturk, beIN alone. We need telco companies to be part of it, we need banks to be part of it. We need airways companies to be part of it. They need to support it, sponsor it," he said.
Noting that the next negotiations for the broadcasting agreement would start in May, he said "We need more support. This season, Super Lig does not have any sponsor yet. We already passed the halfway mark of the season."
beIN SPORTS is airing Super Lig in 107 countries all over the world, he noted.