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TV rights challenge

 

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rainjar
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Oct 4, 2010, 3:41 AM

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TV rights challenge Can't Post or Reply Privately

Football makes a lot of money with differential pricing of “intellectual property”.
Two questions sometimes arise:

1. Is it intellectual property at all.
2. Is the pricing model in breach of competition laws.

The second question may be answered soon enough for the Premier League.
"The European Court of Justice will this week hear a landmark case brought by a Portsmouth-based pub landlord, which could change the landscape of how sports broadcasting rights are sold across Europe.

....

The case Ms Murphy is taking to the ECJ is based on freedom of trade.

She claims by restricting her choice of satellite TV providers to a single broadcaster - BSkyB - the Premier League contravenes European Union principles of free movement of goods and services between member states of the EU.

Furthermore, such practice also prevents free and open competition in the UK broadcast market.

If Ms Murphy wins, the future value of the Premier League's broadcasting rights could be undermined.

"The Premier League is probably the most aggressive defender of its copyright in the world of sport," says analyst Frank Dunne, acting editor of TVSportsMarkets.com.

...."




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(This post was edited by rainjar on Oct 4, 2010, 3:43 AM)


DavetheGlassboy
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Oct 8, 2010, 10:42 PM

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Re: [rainjar] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Well, for a start the Premier League isn't restricted to one broadcaster as ESPN also show games.

The big issue here surely is that she's breaking the FA's embargo on televised games at 3pm on a Saturday.

As far as I can see, Premiership TV rights are sold on the open market at the end of each contract and are therefore compliant with competition regulations.

But then, I'm not a lawyer.



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blackdouglas
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Oct 9, 2010, 3:00 AM

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Re: [DavetheGlassboy] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I've only scanned the article briefly, but part of what she's arguing against is Sky's restrictive selling practices, i.e. Sky will only sell someone in Britain specific British Sky packages which include the 3pm Saturday embargo. She wants to be able to go abroad and legally buy, say, a Greek package which not only doesn't have the 3pm Saturday embargo but just happens to be a fraction of the price of packages made available to British customers by Sky.



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rainjar
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Oct 9, 2010, 7:06 AM

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Re: [blackdouglas] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

More on the Morning Advertiser's website on Tuesday.



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DavetheGlassboy
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Oct 9, 2010, 8:57 AM

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Re: [blackdouglas] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I fully accept the pricing argument and would agree that it does appear to breech EU free trading regulations.

However, the 3pm Saturday embargo is an important one. It's hard enough to get people to games as it is and most evening games have to clash with one televised game or another as it is, without the most prolific game day and time being encroached upon as well.

If there was a way in which these foreign broadcast cards could be used but blocked out on Saturday afternoons that may alleviate some objections.

That said, these rules are already being openly flouted. There's one pub on Broad Street, Birmingham that openly advertises its broadcast of games on Saturdays at 3pm (and out on the street, not just inside). Earlier in the season, we went to Cirencester whose club house seemed to be broadcasting an Italian version of Sky Sports and a visit to Worcester City last season they seemed to be showing some Arabic broadcast.

The copyright angle is a difficult one. When it comes to creative works, the laws re copyright are fairly straightforward. The situation re intellectual property when it comes to the broadcast of live sporting events over which you have no direct control would appear to be another matter entirely.

I'm no defender of Sky and wholeheartedly agree that the prices that they charge pubs and other publicly accessible organisations is little short of extortionate, so to a point they've brought this on themselves.

But if the use of these overseas systems is going to become freely available across the board and not just to those who disregard the law at the moment, what is likely to be the effect especially on non-League football?

It's hard enough to get people into a midweek game when there's a TV game on, especially if it's on terrestrial TV, which is why I was pleased to see that the Southern League chose not to schedule midweek games on nights when England were playing.

Having this situation on a Saturday when people may choose to head for the pub to watch Chelsea or Man United at 3pm rather than their local club then that could cause huge problems.



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KnowYourMarket
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Oct 11, 2010, 6:17 PM

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Re: [DavetheGlassboy] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Although you would assume 1245 and 515 kick offs also affect people going to games, unless they live on the doorstep of their team.



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cope1
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Oct 11, 2010, 9:02 PM

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Re: [KnowYourMarket] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

From a purely legal point of view the 3pm kick off issue is irrelevant, and I suspect she may have a strong case. The 3pm thing is another story, and I do think ideally Sky is in the best position to resolve the issue by reducing prices in the first place.

One thing I would like to see is a package for amateur sports clubs. I know of several clubs who rely on someone bringing their Sky card to the club so people can watch games because for the club to buy their own would bankrupt them!


blackdouglas
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Oct 11, 2010, 9:57 PM

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In Reply To
From a purely legal point of view the 3pm kick off issue is irrelevant, and I suspect she may have a strong case. The 3pm thing is another story, and I do think ideally Sky is in the best position to resolve the issue by reducing prices in the first place.

One thing I would like to see is a package for amateur sports clubs. I know of several clubs who rely on someone bringing their Sky card to the club so people can watch games because for the club to buy their own would bankrupt them!

Actually I believe what we refer to as the "3pm Saturday" situation is a UEFA Directive, and it applies across Europe varying from country to country depending on what that nation's traditional kick off time is. E.g. I used to enjoy a Sunday lunchtime helping of Football Italia on C4/C5 which wasn't available in Italy because that is their traditional kick off time.

I don't know how enforceable this Directive is, or even who is responsible for enforcing it. I hardly believe it is a criminal matter so more likely to be pursued through the civil courts which are both costly and time consuming. Putting the cat among the pigeons, wouldn't it be funny to hear UEFA had issued an edict to the FA banning the televising of the premier league because of these cases where people are trying to get round it.

As for the cost issue, the amount charged by Sky is based on the pubs' and clubs' Business Rateable Value and currently there is no legally alternative way to getting Sky. I don't know, is it like wanting a Big Mac but not wanting to visit MacDonald's. You can go to Wimpy and have their equivalent, but it's not a Big Mac. You can go to the supermarket, get all the ingredients and make your own, but it's not a Big Mac. Like it or not, to get a Big Mac you have to go to MacDonald's. To get Premier League football on your box these days somebody somewhere has to talk to Sky.



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cope1
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Oct 13, 2010, 2:27 PM

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Post #9 of 36 (8624 views)
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Re: [blackdouglas] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I tend to agree with what you say, although my point about 3pm being irrelevant is that if a landlord has a legal contract with a provider which shows the PL at 3pm on Saturday, the PL must surely take that up with the provider, not every landlord using the service. If it is proven that Sky are restricting competition then the result must be either that Sky provide a cheaper service, or that other providers are allowed to screen matches in the UK but not during the 3pm blackout period.

In terms of amateur sports clubs, the problem often arises because they are only open one or two days a week. Surely Sky could produce a pricing policy which only allows the club to screen on those days. The pub version, for instance, has that beer glass in the corner. If you had your club open on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning then the beer icon would only show during those times. Obviously someone could try to get around that, but then you can try to get around it by buying Sky for yourself, and then lending the box to a pub.


leohoenig
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Oct 14, 2010, 10:39 AM

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Re: [cope1] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

There are several issues here, and in some cases our preferences on one side of the issue clash with other issues.

Sky Tv has few friends on here, but many of us watch live football on TV.

The Premiership has sold certain packages of TV rights to Sky (and another to ESPN) with exclusive rights to broadcast these matches to the UK and Ireland. The Premiership also sells other packages to broadcast matches in other geographical territories. If these packages could be officially received in the UK, then Sky would not have its exclusivity (and hence would pay less), while the foreign rights holders would have to pay more.

Foreign rights holders are also not included in the Saturday afternoon embargo, and hence can boradcast matches kicking off at 3 pm Saturday. They have to keep instead to any embargo imposed by their own national FA. The Premier League is party to the agreement (through UEFA) to repsect each national FA's right to set embargos. If these foreign rights holders were to broadcast to the UK, then they would have to respect the embargo and not take the Saturday afternoon fixtures.

It seems to me that the current balance is as good as we will get. The Premier League has been forced to sell packages to more than one broadcaster, producing some competition in the market for selling these on, (not a very effective one though). There is some competition over the platform the games are transmitted to the public (Satellite, Cable, etc..). The Saturday afternoon match embargo is in place, meaning that live football matches can be played at the traditional time without competition from broadcast matches (at least of the same sport).

The sales of TV rights are producing a massive financial boost to the Premier League, financing the star players that mean the league is almost as good as they say it is. Take away the sky money and you take away the Premier League's ability to compete with its Spanish and Italian equivalents.

Of course, there are problems - I feel I pay too much to Sky, and the landlord of my favourite pub says he will not take Sky as the Sky's charges could not be recouped from increased sales, (and this is from a pub which needs football for its custom - being a stopping point between town and ground for away football fans on alternate Saturdays).

So, despite my antipathy to Sky and all things Murdoch, this is one case I am hoping he wins



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VP
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Oct 14, 2010, 11:51 PM

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Re: [leohoenig] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The problem with Sky is that they're so inflexible when it comes to pricing.
If they would negotiate on their prices and be a bit reasonable then I'd hope they and the Premier League win the current case but, at the moment, I don't care what happens.
Camberley Town stopped subscribing to Sky a few months ago. They were charging the club £600 a month. We used to have a Celtic supporter's club watching all their games at our club but they've decamped to the rugby club across the road so our committee felt it was no longer financially viable to have Sky and we've ditched it.
We're not the only club to cease subscribing to Sky lately so surely it's in their best interests to charge clubs less than they do. If they can charge a private punter £20 a month or whatever it is, why do they insist on charging hundreds or thousands a month to clubs and pubs?
The dodgy arabic channels aren't worth the hassle. All it takes is one person to grass you up and you get fined or taken to court so, as a club, we're now waiting on the result of this court case to see what happens. If we can legally get to show matches at a fraction of the price Sky currently charge then we'll do it but if Sky would quote us a reasonable price then we'd happily stay with them.


(This post was edited by VP on Oct 14, 2010, 11:53 PM)


cope1
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Oct 17, 2010, 11:22 PM

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Re: [leohoenig] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I don't really care one way or another about Sky. They pay the Premier League lots of money and that allows English football clubs to perform well in Europe. It also allows them to develop infrastructure which they may not be able to do otherwise. However, I also think they are inflexible and could resolve issues like this themselves with more affordable packages. There are many pubs and clubs which do not subscribe because it is prohibitively expensive. I happen to think that English football losing a bit of money may just have to be the price we pay for having live football at an affordable rate.


TonyD
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Oct 20, 2010, 2:50 PM

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Re: [cope1] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Sky is a business. They no doubt set their charges to balance maximising the number of viewers with maximising the revenue from the subscriptions. If all the pubs dropped Sky, they would have to lower their charges to regain the viewers so they retained advertising revenue. If they've paid a lot for exclusivity, they have every right to defend it. If a pub cannot afford the charges, don't buy the service! Since when did it become a necessary part of the pub going experience that they showed football on TV?


rainjar
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Oct 20, 2010, 3:27 PM

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Re: [TonyD] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
Sky is a business. They no doubt set their charges to balance maximising the number of viewers with maximising the revenue from the subscriptions. If all the pubs dropped Sky, they would have to lower their charges to regain the viewers so they retained advertising revenue. If they've paid a lot for exclusivity, they have every right to defend it. If a pub cannot afford the charges, don't buy the service! Since when did it become a necessary part of the pub going experience that they showed football on TV?


No one is stopping Sky from setting the price they want. However, if a pub can get it cheaper elsewhere in Europe, why shouldn't it be allowed to do so?

For example, if a dealership got exclusive rights to sell Jaguars in Britain, and fixes a very high price for it, why should a buyer be stopped from going to France to buy a Jaguar at half the price?



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(This post was edited by rainjar on Oct 20, 2010, 3:27 PM)


VP
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Re: [TonyD] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
Sky is a business. They no doubt set their charges to balance maximising the number of viewers with maximising the revenue from the subscriptions. If all the pubs dropped Sky, they would have to lower their charges to regain the viewers so they retained advertising revenue. If they've paid a lot for exclusivity, they have every right to defend it. If a pub cannot afford the charges, don't buy the service! Since when did it become a necessary part of the pub going experience that they showed football on TV?


You're right but I don't think Sky's business practices are very good.
If a long term user of any business apporaches them and says they've got no problems with the service but would like a discount or they'll have to cancel the deal, how many businesses will just cut off the service without at least trying to win the customer back with a deal or better price?
Our club, and others, are prepared to pay for Sky, but only at a rate we can afford. Sky aren't interested in negotiations.


leohoenig
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Oct 20, 2010, 5:48 PM

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Re: [rainjar] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Simply this
Sky have paid a massive fee to gain the exclusive rights to show certain football games in a certain territory. They then charge what they think is appropriate to recoup their investment.

Other companies pay a lesser fee to gain exclusive rights to show the same football games in other (less lucrative territiories). If they are then allowed to show these in the territory allocated to Sky, then it changes the whole dynamic of the rights sales.
Sky would not pay as much as they currently do, without the exclusive rights.

No doubt, the Premier League would either stop selling rights to companies that will not respect Sky's right to exclusivity, or charge appropriate prices to the other companies if they were forced by some outside agency to end the monopoly. Either way, any gain to the consumer is liable to be short lived. If the overall price paid in rights to the Premier League is significantly reduced, then this would also consequently reduce the payments to the clubs. If salaries in the Premier League are reduced in comparison to those in the other major leagues in Europe, then no doubt the quality of the league will drop (and hence the demand from the consumer).



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TonyD
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Oct 20, 2010, 10:18 PM

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Re: [rainjar] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

I don't think your analogy is accurate - you would have to change it to "why should a buyer be stopped from going to France to steal a Jaguar", because in effect, that's what these pub who show unauthorised feeds are doing.


rainjar
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Oct 21, 2010, 2:57 AM

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Re: [TonyD] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
I don't think your analogy is accurate - you would have to change it to "why should a buyer be stopped from going to France to steal a Jaguar", because in effect, that's what these pub who show unauthorised feeds are doing.


They're paying an authorized dealer in Europe for the product, how can that be stealing?



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rainjar
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Oct 21, 2010, 2:58 AM

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Re: [leohoenig] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
Simply this
Sky have paid a massive fee to gain the exclusive rights to show certain football games in a certain territory. They then charge what they think is appropriate to recoup their investment.

....


Going back to my analogy, how can the fact that the UK dealer paid a lot for the exclusive right be used to justify purchasing the same product in Europe?



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leohoenig
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Oct 21, 2010, 1:45 PM

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Re: [rainjar] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

It is not the same product.
Sky have paid for the exclusive rights to broadcast certain football matches in the UK.
Other companies have paid for the rights to broadcast these matches in other territories.

There is no rule against you subscribing to the other networks, but at least as far as watching these matches is concerned, you may only watch them in the territory for which they have broadcast rights.

If you are receiving transmissions of football matches in the UK, from a boradcaster that has not paid for the rights to transmit to the UK then one of the following is true.
  1. The boradcaster in question is in breach of their contract with the Premier League, and are broadcaster games in territories for which they have not paid for the rights
  2. You are in breach of your contract with the broadcaster, and are receiving transmissions that are in fact limited to being viewed in a territory other than the one you are in.
  3. You are using a pirated decoder without permission from the broadcaster

[I am assuming here, that broadcasters have the right to encode transmissions and to charge the viewer to see them].

So while it is legal to buy the Jaguar in France and drive it here, the same rule does not apply to TV transmissions.

If a court denies this rule and applies a free market, then this will change the pricing structure of the rights, and could allow TV companies to break the embargo on transmitting live football fixtures at 15.00 Saturday.



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rainjar
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Oct 21, 2010, 2:19 PM

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Re: [leohoenig] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Car dealerships could also have exclusive rights for certain territories.

If a car dealership with exclusive rights for only one country sells a car to a buyer in another country, the recourse is against the dealership, not the buyer.

The broader question is one related to "parallel imports".

Sky is looking to the law to provide it with extra protection, over and above that provided to other producers, by giving it rights against a buyer with whom it has no contractual relationship



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oftenscore6
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Nov 5, 2010, 1:14 AM

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Re: [leohoenig] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately


In Reply To
It is not the same product.
Sky have paid for the exclusive rights to broadcast certain football matches in the UK.
Other companies have paid for the rights to broadcast these matches in other territories.

There is no rule against you subscribing to the other networks, but at least as far as watching these matches is concerned, you may only watch them in the territory for which they have broadcast rights.

If you are receiving transmissions of football matches in the UK, from a boradcaster that has not paid for the rights to transmit to the UK then one of the following is true.
  1. The boradcaster in question is in breach of their contract with the Premier League, and are broadcaster games in territories for which they have not paid for the rights
  2. You are in breach of your contract with the broadcaster, and are receiving transmissions that are in fact limited to being viewed in a territory other than the one you are in.
  3. You are using a pirated decoder without permission from the broadcaster

[I am assuming here, that broadcasters have the right to encode transmissions and to charge the viewer to see them].

So while it is legal to buy the Jaguar in France and drive it here, the same rule does not apply to TV transmissions.

If a court denies this rule and applies a free market, then this will change the pricing structure of the rights, and could allow TV companies to break the embargo on transmitting live football fixtures at 15.00 Saturday.


I would think (2) is highly unlikely unless you have deceived the broadcaster about the location where you are receiving transmissions - that isn't the case in the pubs I know. I suspect very few pirate decoders are in place for overseas satellite transmissions either because the subscription cost is too low to justify it. So I think it's likely the vast majority are option 1 - in which case surely the broadcaster should be the one up for any fine/prosecution.

I've noticed an increase this year in pubs showing Italian and German 'Sky Sport' this year. I understand this is part of the same parent Rupert Murdoch company, so it's interesting to note that they are happy to provide their services to the UK, depriving another part of the same company their exclusivity. It will be interesting to see if Sky Sports sue Sky Sport for lost revenue at some point....



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rainjar
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Feb 4, 2011, 2:41 AM

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Re: [oftenscore6] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

The ECJ opinion (also referred to in another thread):


Quote

Juliane Kokott, one of the eight advocate generals of the European court of justice, gave her view on a landmark case brought by Karen Murphy, landlady of the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth. Murphy uses a Greek decoder card to show live Premier League matches at much cheaper rates than BSkyB charges commercial premises in the UK.

The FA Premier League, which sells TV rights exclusively to broadcasters across Europe on a territory-by-territory basis, is attempting to clamp down on British pubs buying in live coverage from foreign broadcasters.

Kokott today opened the door for the potential dismantling of this country-specific sports rights regime, saying that in her opinion the "exclusivity of the rights in question have the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of freedom to provide services".

While Kokott's opinion is not binding, the ECJ tends to follow the advice of advocate generals in the majority of cases. The Luxembourg-based court is expected to deliver its verdict on the Murphy case later this year.
Kokott said that the "economic exploitation of the [TV] rights is not is not undermined by the use of foreign decoder cards as the corresponding charges have been paid for those cards".

"Whilst those charges are not as high as the charges imposed in the UK there is ... no specific right to charge different prices for a work in each member state," she added.

Kokott said that the idea of selling on a territorial exclusivity basis was "tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market".

She dismissed the copyright argument put forward by the Premier League that it held exclusive rights to matches broadcast to the public. "There are no comprehensive rights which protect the communication of a broadcast to the public where no entrance fee is charged," she said.


The article continues with the Premier League's response to the opinion.



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Isaac
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Feb 4, 2011, 1:15 PM

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Re: [rainjar] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

Sounds like a big loss of income for Sky and probably a knock on effect on players wages...................my heart bleeds for themWink!

Although being able to legally watch live football on TV at 3pm on a Saturday has to be a bit concerning.

On this subject it seems some pubs are now charging an entrance fee which is redeemable at the bar, ie you pay £5 to get in and get £5 worth of drinks with the voucher, to stop 'cheapskates' coming in to watch the football but not buying anything.


(This post was edited by Isaac on Feb 4, 2011, 1:22 PM)


MistaFozzII
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Re: [Isaac] TV rights challenge [In reply to] Can't Post or Reply Privately

How does Sky justify the hundreds, if not, thousands, of pounds it charges pubs, what is the difference between the Sky box in my house and the Sky box in the boozer, I pay 50 notes or so a month, the landlord pays hundreds

Is that just a way for Murdoch to get his mitts on a pubs profits?



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