Well there may be good news for publicans who are struggling to make Sky and ESPN contracts work financially. Many of you have just found it too expensive to subscribe and in reality when you work out the cost of the service against the increase in profits the answer is often just not worth it – BUT of course people like to come to a pub where sport is shown and if you don’t have it at all will you get anyone in at all?
Many of you will have been tempted to subscribe to cheaper European alternatives and some of you may have been sued for so doing. We at Blackadders have certainly been called upon to assist clients in fending off legal action from the English Premier League with regard to the possession of decoder cards which enable customers to view overseas broadcasts of football matches.
The English Premier League owns the copyright in Premier league match footage and exclusively licenses its rights to broadcasters in different territories (in the UK, the live rights are currently licensed to Sky and ESPN). Under the terms of their licences, foreign broadcasters are prohibited from supplying “non-UK” satellite decoder cards – which facilitate the transmission of match footage – for use in the UK.
Well one landlady Mrs Murphy has taken the matter to the European Court of Justice arguing that the laws governing the European Union single market should permit her to use alternative and cheaper European sports TV providers.
The European judges are due to come to a decision this Autumn. In the meantime their legal advisor, the Advocate General Juliane Kokott, has stated that in her opinion Mrs Murphy’s case has merit and that the Premier League’s marketing of broadcasting rights on a territorially exclusive basis amounts to profiting from the elimination of the internal market. The court does not have to agree with Ms Kokott’s opinion. However, it would be very unusual for them to take a decision which goes against it.
What does this mean for you? At present, nothing. The law in the UK remains the same. You are not currently permitted to use any provider other than Sky or ESPN who have successfully bid for the right to show Premier League football in the UK. They have poured millions of pounds into the Premier League enabling clubs to grow, develop their offering and the Premier League will fight all the way to the end to preserve its position. It is likely the Premier League will have the support of Sky for its interest. That said, many believe that it will take a comeback in the mould of the recent Newcastle v Arsenal match in order for the Premier League to turn this around.
So watch this space. We will keep you informed as to the outcome of the case and advise you of your options.
Accredited Liquor Licensing Specialist
Business – Corporate & Commercial