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Nov 26 - Dec 8, 2019
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Digital piracy, a unique and dangerous threat

The SIGA inter-regional summit urges governments and rights holders to be pro-active in tackling the menace.
Emanuel Macedo De Medeiros, Ceo, Siga And Duncan Walkinshaw
Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO, SIGA and Duncan Walkinshaw, Director of Programming, beIN SPORTS, discuss Media Rights and Digital Piracy at the SIGA inter-regional sports integrity summit. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

How do you fight digital piracy? How do you penalise the people responsible for it?

Digital piracy scuppers an entire business model, causing large scale repercussions on investors and many other stakeholders. And the damages filter down to the fans and the sport. Can Sport Integrity Global Alliance (SIGA) help change this bleak scenario?

The question came up at SIGA’s inter-regional summit on sports integrity titled ‘The Power of Collective Action in the Middle East, Asia and Africa’ in Doha on Tuesday.

Duncan Walkinshaw, Director of Programming, beIN SPORTS, raised the issue of the TV channel’s programmes being pirated and said, “Satellite piracy is unique. It has never been done before. Our content is being stolen and rebranded by someone else as their own. The commercial breaks for these pirated programmes are also sold and the entire package is being made to look like an authentic presentation”.

Liz Mccolgan Emily Jane Organ Karen Webb Moss
FROM LEFT: Liz McColgan, former 10,000M Olympic silver medallist, Emily Jane Organ, Senior Producer and Talent Development beIN SPORTS, Karen Webb-Moss, Group COO, ICSS, Kate Simmonds, General Counsel and Senior Director, Global Partnerships, SIGA aand Valentina Biffin, Director, Croatian Volleyball Federation at the Female Leadership in Sport panel discussion at the SIGA summit. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran
Mohammed Hanzab He Ismail Ismayilov
Mohammed Hanzab (right), Chairman and CEO, International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS) and HE Ismail Ismayilov, First Vice Minister of Youth and Sport from the Republic of Azerbaijan at the SIGA inter-regional sports integrity summit. IQ Photo: Vinod Divakaran

Walkinshaw said the issue had been hanging fire for too long and not enough was being done. “There is too much complacency on the part of governments and rights holders. In such a situation rights holders need to put pressure on the government, the government will then apply pressure on the sports associations.

“As of now, only statements are being made. You can’t fight piracy with mere statements. There has to be follow-up,” said Walkinshaw.

The Doha-based channel’s programming director said countries involved in piracy should be penalised.

“You can’t be state-funding piracy and want to be the home for an F1 race or a Serie A. It is so hypocritical. If piracy is rife then the country should be made aware it will face complications. That is not happening,” he said.

SIGA promised to join in the fight against this new attack on sports integrity. Emanuel Macedo de Medeiros, CEO, SIGA said, “The problem is very political and unprecedented. It’s the most dangerous form of piracy the industry has ever seen. The problem does not concern only sport and Qatar. It concerns the whole sporting industry and all broadcasters.

“SIGA as a part of one strategic approach to the problem is launching a white paper on Sports Integrity and IP Rights & Digital Piracy will be a part of it. We will also engage all key stakeholders, starting with UEFA. We are prepared to face this in a constructive way. We do believe that common sense will prevail. But you can count on us to be very proactive in this regard,” added the SIGA CEO.

Even as SIGA promised to act on digital piracy, it was also drawn to a call for action regarding women in sport – in leadership roles as well as on and off the field.

“You need women in leadership roles. They bring a new dimension with their commitment and instinct. It was a challenge for me climbing up the ladder in a male-dominated business structure,” said Karen Webb-Moss, Group COO, International Centre for Sports Security (ICSS).

Katie Simmonds, General Counsel and Senior Director, Global Partnerships, SIGA said, “Only 18.3 per cent of international federations had women on their board. This needs to change.”

Katie also said that more should be done to get young girls into sport. “There should be a conscious effort from governments to get girls active every single day. Not just every four years when there is a major sports event. More money needs to be set aside for grassroots development and to groom the next generation of athletes,” she added.

Liz McColgan, former 10,000M Olympic silver medallist, emphasised the importance of sport and said it had taught her lessons for life. “Sport can change a person.  You can be the most diffident person but good training and participation in sport teaches you skills for life. And these skills can be used in many other spheres as well,” she said, speaking on the concluding day of the summit.

HE Ismail Ismayilov, First Vice Minister of Youth and Sport from the Republic of Azerbaijan, was also present as a panelist and applauded Qatar for its progress in all areas and sport in particular. He said that Azerbaijan was willing to be part of the drive to support SIGA and the global fight against corruption in sport.