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Premier League face potential 'Bosman' of TV rights


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could be interesting this. not sure i can see her winning like but interesting all the same.

 

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11452434

 

Five years ago, Karen Murphy would try to draw punters to her Portsmouth pub, The Red, White and Blue, by showing Premier League football matches on the pub TV.

 

However, she found the monthly subscription to Sky Sports increasingly unaffordable - pubs can pay more than £1,000 a month.

 

Instead, she found a cheaper means of screening English football - a subscription to a Greek satellite broadcaster, NOVA. This imported satellite card was around one 10th of the cost Karen was paying to BSkyB.

 

She says she's not the only one saving money in this way:

 

"I think you'll find that most publicans will try and find another way of showing football. In fact quite a lot of them do.

 

"I think it's only the larger chains that can afford to pay the Sky prices. A lot of pubs have taken Sky out - they simply can't afford it."

 

Copyright concern

 

However, using these foreign subscription cards puts publicans like Ms Murphy in breach of UK copyright law, because the means by which they screen football is not via the authorised broadcaster - Sky Sports.

 

“I think it's a greedy private company trying to dictate to the small people what they can and can not do, purely for profit”

 

s a result, Ms Murphy was taken to court and ended up having to pay nearly £8,000 in fines and costs after being caught by enforcers working on behalf of Football Association Premier League Limited (FAPL) - the private company which represents the broadcasting interests of the 20 English Premier League clubs.

 

Five years on from her first appearance in a magistrates court, she has taken her appeal all the way to the grand chamber of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) - a court reserved only for the most complex and important cases of European law.

 

"I think it's unjust. I think it's a greedy private company trying to dictate to the small people what they can and cannot do, purely for profit," she told 5 live Investigates.

 

"The law needs changing. If I don't fight who is going to fight?"

 

Sitting in her pub, she puts her case into perspective:

 

"If I wanted to go and buy a car, I could go to any garage I like. Me, as a publican, if I want to show football, I can only go to the Sky garage, and have to pay 10 times the price of anybody else [in Europe]. I don't believe that's fair."

 

Freedom to choose

 

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.

 

“Without this protection it is the consumer, or fans as we prefer, that ultimately suffer ”

 

The FA Premier League

"The Premier League's action is part of a wider battle to protect its copyright, which is being fought on three fronts.

 

"First, is the battle against UK pubs showing matches from foreign satellite services. Second, there's the battle to stop pirate coverage of league matches being streamed online using peer-to-peer technology. Third is the battle against unauthorised use of match clips on YouTube."

 

The Premier League says this fight to protect its interests is about maintaining standards:

 

"Without this protection it is the consumer, or fans as we prefer, that ultimately suffer as the investment in quality content will inevitably be diminished. It is also unfair on those licensees that respect the law."

 

While some 80,000 unauthorised internet streams of football matches have been shut down over the past two years, the FAPL has not always been successful in its pursuit of those it deems to have infringed its copyright and earlier this year failed in its attempt to sue YouTube in a US court.

 

Hope of clarity

 

However, the Premier League says the forthcoming ECJ hearing will provide an opportunity to clear up issues that have long been used to confuse publicans and licensees.

 

The FAPL also has the endorsement of BSkyB, which told the BBC:

 

"This is primarily a case about how rights are licensed to broadcasters across Europe. While Sky is not a party to this case, we welcome the Premier League's determination to seek a definitive ruling on this issue."

 

But the impact of a decision against the FAPL cannot be overestimated, according to Mr Dunne.

 

He says: "This case has the potential to become the Bosman of broadcasting." The Bosman ruling was another landmark decision made by the ECJ in 1995, which had a profound effect on the transfer of professional football players within the EU.

 

“This case has the potential to become the Bosman of broadcasting”

 

Frank Dunne

TVSportsMarkets.com

 

A decision against the Premier League would lead to a similarly radical shake-up in the way the broadcasting industry works.

 

"The doomsday scenario for rights-holders [such as the Premier League] is that their ability to sell their content on an exclusive basis by individual European territory, charging different rights fees according to the size of the individual market, will be undermined," says Mr Dunne.

 

"Nobody seems really sure how rights sales would work if that system were ruled to be in breach of European law on the free movement of goods and services.

 

"The Premier League is confident that it is going into the case with strong arguments. But it was also confident of its arguments when doing battle with YouTube in the New York courts, and it lost that one."

 

Uncertain future

 

One criticism of the current market model is that the FAPL insists that broadcasters include clauses in their subscription contracts with consumers that forbid the use of broadcasters' decoder cards outside the designated territory. The effect of such restrictions is that it creates territorial monopolies.

 

However, should Karen Murphy win, it is possible that these territorial monopolies could be consolidated further.

 

Because if football rights - or any media rights - have to be sold on a Europe-wide basis, then only a handful of companies will be able to afford to bid.

 

What this will mean for the average consumer is not clear but up to now the money generated from the sale of broadcast rights of Premier League matches has revolutionised English football, turning it into the most lucrative league in the world.

 

Anything which undermines this revenue stream is seen as potentially harmful to the future success of English football, and concerns over the use of foreign satellite decoders is not limited to copyright infringement.

 

Anyone using the imported boxes can side-step the Premier League's Saturday afternoon broadcasting blackout.

 

Officially, no UK-based broadcaster can show premiership football at the traditional kick-off time of 1500. This is because the Premier League wants to encourage attendance at live games.

 

However, European broadcasters do not have to abide by this restriction and the foreign decoders allow landlords to show games that are prohibited to Sky subscribers.

 

So, does Karen Murphy think her case is potentially damaging to the game?

 

"I'm not damaging football. Football is damaging itself by dictating when matches are shown. Supporters don't want a match on a Tuesday night - which suits the broadcaster - they want a match on a Saturday afternoon. The whole thing has got way out of control. It's pure greed."

 

Ahead of the ECJ hearing, which begins on Tuesday, the Premier League is remaining tight-lipped.

 

In a statement it said: "It is not appropriate for us to comment in any detail on this matter given the close proximity of the ECJ hearing, however after this process has been concluded we will, of course, place our full position on record."

 

But how confident is Karen Murphy? Does she think she will win her case?

 

"Absolutely. I think I should have freedom of choice. It's not like I went to buy something illegal. I just went to buy it from a different company. I just made a choice."

Edited by Stevie H
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one to watch - if she wins, then the chances of collective bargaining going are greater - and so the pipe dream G&H have always had of individual tv rights becomes more likely.

 

Why? The (new) conditions of sale would be the same, whether sold collectively or individaully.

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SKY are c****

 

would love it if they got f*cked in court

 

 

went to a small village pub a month back to see one of our games and they'd taken SKY out - the landlady said SKY had upped the price from £500 a month last year to over £800 a month this - and she simply couldn't afford it.

 

f*ck em

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Alternatively, the prices Sky can charge plummet and the TV money premiership clubs receive with it.

which is probably what would cause individual clubs to break away and set up their own deals.

 

though having listened to the bbc podcast their biggest complaint against this woman's case is that 'by doing this aren't you damaging football because english clubs without sky money will no longer be able to buy the best talent?'. thought this would actually please those little englanders who are always complaining about there being too many foreigners in the game and the national team being crap.

 

what's the monopolies and mergers stance on this though? sky has an effective monopoly on live premier league football doesn't it?

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Sky has already been looked at by the MMC but it does have a pretty significant stake in the RIGHTS to Premiership Football and in this case, no-one is really disputing that

 

This lady is questioning their insistence that in using a secondary broadcaster of those rights (and in this case, I wonder who the Greeks got the coverage from....), she is acting illegally. Surely, in the EU free-market, if Sky charges you £100 and you can buy the same product from Greece for £10, you SHOULD be within your rights to use the Greek product. Sky is stopping someone buying from someone else.

 

 

And master Murdoch called the BBC a monopoly that should be broken up.... :unsure:

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As Sky sold to BT (Vision) so BT could carry football

 

And then once BT had set a price to you and me, put the price to BT up, meaning that they make a big loss to each customer they sell football to

 

That's not monopolistic at all, it's just pricing to harm a competitor.

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And master Murdoch called the BBC a monopoly that should be broken up.... :unsure:

 

BBC are their main competition. Once the Tory's destroy (or at least reduce) them as pay back for their election victory that will leave the way open for Sky to cement their advantage and start to generate REAL profits.

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BBC are their main competition. Once the Tory's destroy (or at least reduce) them as pay back for their election victory that will leave the way open for Sky to cement their advantage and start to generate REAL profits.

 

So did anyone watch Dispatches last night?

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one to watch - if she wins, then the chances of collective bargaining going are greater - and so the pipe dream G&H have always had of individual tv rights becomes more likely.

Not a pipe dream, it's a very possible reality.

 

which is probably what would cause individual clubs to break away and set up their own deals.

 

though having listened to the bbc podcast their biggest complaint against this woman's case is that 'by doing this aren't you damaging football because english clubs without sky money will no longer be able to buy the best talent?'. thought this would actually please those little englanders who are always complaining about there being too many foreigners in the game and the national team being crap.

 

what's the monopolies and mergers stance on this though? sky has an effective monopoly on live premier league football doesn't it?

They were basically forced to allow a separate package of games, which is what ESPN have.

 

It'll be interesting to see what happens with this. European law ought to allow her to use a service provided from another country, so the argument would seem to be whether that right trumps copyright law.

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Not a pipe dream, it's a very possible reality.

 

 

They were basically forced to allow a separate package of games, which is what ESPN have.

 

It'll be interesting to see what happens with this. European law ought to allow her to use a service provided from another country, so the argument would seem to be whether that right trumps copyright law.

matty

 

Where's the breach of copyright? Sky selll to her but she says "no thanks"/ Sky also sell to Greeceand they sell to her. Unless the Greek broadcaster is breaking their obligations under their agreement with Sky, where's the copyright issue? EU law should certainly permit them reselling - as they do to Greeks.

 

Sure, Sky (and the PL) could argue that they hold the monopoly on broadcast rights in the UK but I doubt they'd be too keen to admit that but they are not broadcasting. They sold that right to someone else, and they are selling to Mrs Miggins. Sky could argue that it wants ONLY Greeks being sold the games from the Greek broadcaster, but that's really tough to police when the EU law is for open borders, free trade and broadcasters EU-wide share the same bloody satellite

Edited by Tosh
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sky are charging the UK a higher price for the same product than greece. UK customers buy the product in greece.

 

doesnt sound illegal to me, but coming to think of it, sky would probably just increase the prices in all the other EU countries rather than dropping the prices in the UK

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what SKY should be doing is writing their contracts with the companies in Greece saying they can't resell to the UK market (or if they do then the price is different), then suing them if they do- not hammering the little people who've sourced their product cheaper overseas

Edited by Cobs
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What's happening here then? Is the Greek company paying less for the broadcast rights than Sky is?

 

A nova sports card costs around £120.

Sky sports costs £1600.

 

I'ts b******s. My local only ever gets about 20 extra people for a big london game. Yet they want to charge that ridiculous fee.

Total nonsense

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  • 3 months later...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12355022

 

 

Looks like the EU are "minded" to uphold her case as not to do so would be in breach of EU competition laws

 

Broadcasters cannot stop customers using cheaper foreign satellite TV equipment to watch Premier League football, an EU legal adviser has said.

 

A non-binding opinion from advocate Juliane Kokott of the European Court of Justice said a block breached EU laws.

 

Portsmouth pub landlady Karen Murphy, fined for using Greek decoders, had argued the EU single market should let her use any European provider.

 

Sky has the exclusive broadcast rights for Premier League football in the UK.

 

The satellite broadcaster has pumped billions into top flight English football since the league was founded in 1992, with the money given to clubs allowing them to buy some of the top names in the world.

'Contrary to EU law'

 

The case at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has been about whether a rights holder such as the Premier League can license its content on a country-by-country basis.

 

Such a set-up has allowed the league to fully maximise the value of its rights.

 

 

Although Advocate General Kokott's opinion is not binding, judges usually follow the guidance from the advocate.

 

If they do, selling sport, movies, or any other content, on an exclusive territory-by-territory basis within the EU may no longer be possible.

 

"The exclusivity agreement relating to transmission of football matches are contrary to European Union law," she said in her opinion.

 

"(The) exclusivity rights in question have the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of the freedom to provide services."

Fined

 

Ms Murphy had been convicted for using the cheaper Greek satellite receiver to show top flight football in her pub.

 

She used the Nova firm to show matches in the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth as it was less expensive than Sky.

 

Enforcers working on behalf of Football Association Premier League Limited (FAPL) - the private company which represents the broadcasting interests of the 20 English Premier League clubs - brought the prosecution saying only Sky TV had exclusive rights to show its games in the UK.

 

She had to pay nearly £8,000 in fines and costs.

Brussels pressure

 

The Premier League's current deal with Sky is worth nearly £2bn - money the league argues is invested in maintaining the quality of the product.

 

Industry experts say satellite companies face having to reform - leading possibly to the creation of just a handful of pan-European broadcasters.

 

It was pressure from Brussels which forced the Premier League to offer its live matches to more then one broadcaster, rather then just renew the exclusive deals it traditionally had with Sky.

 

Packages were consequently taken up by Setanta, and when they went bust, by ESPN.

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cheers tosh, that is interesting.

 

i like that 'The satellite broadcaster has pumped billions into top flight English football since the league was founded in 1992' makes it sound like sky are running a charity. as if they've not made a profit off the bloody thing.

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if i wanted one of these Nova satellite things at home is it still only 120quid?.. can Sky (or the Premier League, whoever) get me done or is it just because this lady should be paying X-amount to Sky for the privelege of showing the matches thats the main issue?

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if i wanted one of these Nova satellite things at home is it still only 120quid?.. can Sky (or the Premier League, whoever) get me done or is it just because this lady should be paying X-amount to Sky for the privelege of showing the matches thats the main issue?

 

Don't know how they'd ever find out if you had one at home.

 

The pub thing is down to 'mystery shoppers' as I understand it. Which is why their pictures have a beer glass in the corner so you can tell its a pub card, and not just a personal home Sky account.

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