Saturday, June 17, 2006

Islam, ART and World Cup Broadcasting

Many will be familiar with the uproar in Arab countries over the monopoly of world cup games by the subscription-only satellite/cable channel ART. The network has struck deals with local authorities in Arab countries to ensure that their local populations can only watch world cup games on ART, which sells at prices well beyond the reach of the middle classes in those countries (over L.E. 1000 in Egypt, $600 in Palestine!). Some may be able to circumvent that monopoly by using dishes that can pick up European satellite channels, but that is generally a more expensive alternative.

Adding insult to injury, many of the semi-legal cable connections that some Egyptians had used for years to receive Arabic satellite channels were ordered severed, just as the world cup was starting, based on complaints by ART. So, to protect the monopoly, people who had actually been paying to receive ART and other channels now lost access (unless they agree to pay more for what they had already bought!). Ironically, in richer Saudi Arabia, the King forced ART to make some games available for free. However, in poorer Egypt, the monopoly stands strong.

Needless to say, monopoly is quite un-Islamic. If this were a new sports event that ART was showing, they can obviously charge anything they want for it. In this case, however, they chose a sport and an event that people have grown accustomed to watching on free broadcasting for many decades. Then, they struch a deal with governments so that others cannot make it available at lower prices. Thus, this was purely a case of monopolizing a market for which demand was originally built-up by low prices, and then raising the prices dramatically by virtue of that monopoly power.


Blogger heraish said...


Sheikh Nasser bin Sliman Al-Omar: "People Who Watch the World Cup Will Have to Answer on Judgment Day."

The problem with this attitude is that he presents no alternative.

There should be some research on how the pious predecessors spent their leisure time.

God knows best.


4:19 PM  
Blogger Mahmoud El-Gamal said...

But you're also turning things on their head. Doesn't the juristic rule say that the default ruling in all things is permissibility: الأصل في الأشياء الإباحة?

Then the onus of the proof is on one who wishes to declare something impermissible to show the scriptural basis on which he bases his ruling.

Of course, we are all answerable for everything we do on the day of judgment. Perhaps he meant to point to the Hadith about everyone being asked about how they spent their time (especially in youth), as well as his wealth from whence he earned and where he spent it, etc.

I would be careful quoting memri though: check the history of that outfit and its political agenda.

4:41 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Is this really a monopoly, or a legitimite case of "buying the rights of broadcasting" - part of IP rights & laws?

how do you differentiate between the two?

1:55 PM  
Blogger Mahmoud El-Gamal said...

When you buy an exclusive right from the government, you are creating a state-sanctioned monoply. If you are the only seller, and nobody else is allowed to compete with you, what else can we call it?

2:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What is the difference between this and HBO's exclusive rights of showing many Boxing matches?

why is it "legal" for HBO but monopoly/illegal for ART?

Are you saying that:
1- Under US law, some types of monopoly are legal (e.g. the like of HBO on boxing & similar to the ART case & arab countries)

2- Under Islamic law, no monopoly whatsoever is legal.

am I understanding you correctly?

if so, then "IP protection laws" can be seen as a form of monopoly. What does Islam Law say about these? and what sets them apart from ART-like monopolies?

5:49 PM  

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