Qatar-based beIN Sports said on Friday it had decided not to renew a contract for the rights to broadcast Formula One in the Middle East and North Africa as a consequence of piracy in the region, Reuters reported.
The previous five-year deal expired at the end of last season. The 21-race 2019 world championship starts in Australia on March 17.
BeIN Sports, which also has the local rights to the Premier League and other major soccer leagues and tournaments, has urged sports bodies to take legal action in Saudi Arabia against illegal broadcasts.
It is unclear who owns or operates the channel.
A Formula One insider said the beIN contract was originally a sub-license agreement with MP&Silva, a sports marketing and media rights company that went into administration late last year.
The overall contribution, in percentage terms, to Formula One’s annual broadcast revenues of the beIN deal was put in the mid-single digits and a replacement broadcast deal was close to being finalised. (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)