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Premier League (1) and BSkyB (2) -vs- the ECJ
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Premier League (1) and BSkyB (2) -vs- the ECJ - 03-October-2010, 16:26

Looks like its Judgment day this Tuesday.....


Premier League challenges Murphy's law

30th September 2010

An appeal to the European courts by a Portsmouth landlady over whether it is legal to show foreign TV channels broadcasting Premier League games is to be heard on Tuesday 5th October. While the sight of Premier League matches being broadcast in pubs at 3pm on a Saturday is a common one across the UK the practice is, at present, illegal.

As a result Karen Murphy, who runs The Red, White, and Blue pub was convicted of fraudulent reception of transmissions at Portsmouth Magistrates Court in January 2007 for showing Premier League matches.

However, Murphy argues that her conviction should be quashed as it is not in line with European Commission legislation. As Murphy purchased the TV subscription legitimately through Greek broadcaster Nova - a legitimate European-based supplier she argues she should be able to show the matches they screen.

The Premier League contests this and argues that Murphys broadcasting of games is illegal as she did not have an agreement in place with the rights holders for the UK. At the time that was BSkyB although now both Sky and ESPN hold these rights.

The potential ramifications of the case are of course huge for both the Premier League and broadcasters who wish to purchase TV rights. With the BBC reporting that the Premier Leagues current TV deal, running from 2010-13, is worth a whopping 1.782bn any legal tinkering with the formula at European level is bound to cause a fierce response form the Premier League.

If pub landlords pay to broadcast live games via Sky legitimately they can expect to pay around 15-20,000 per annum. Murphy on the other hand only had 800 per annum to subscribe to Greek broadcaster Nova, back in 2007. Should Murphy win the idea of domestic and international markets will be blown apart and the Premier Leagues business model will need to be seriously rethought as TV revenues would surely drop.

While the European Commissions response has yet to be heard the British government did seem to side with the Premier League back in 2006: It is not illegal for a pub/publican to subscribe to a foreign satellite channel as opposed to BSkyB and as the DTI have stated nor is it illegal to import decoder cards from the European Union, said then DCMS minister James Purnell. However, the legality of screening live UK football games carried on that channel depends on how the copyright to those games was sold/distributed.

This was read by many as giving the green light to subscribe to foreign channels - so long as they were turned over when an event was screened which British broadcasters held the rights to. Murphy is expected to challenge this by arguing that Saturday 3pm kick-offs are exempt as theres a Premier League blanket ban on British broadcasters airing games at the traditional kick-off time. Therefore her foreign feed is not in competition with British rights holders.

Of course the Premier League argues its clubs are being deprived of their rightful TV revenue and even bodies through the turnstiles. The blanket ban on Saturday 3pm broadcasting has always been in place to encourage fans to go to games rather than sitting and watching in the pub.

Karen Murphy v Media Protection Services Ltd (acting on behalf of the Premier League) is a case that has been dragging on since 2007 and while Tuesday 5th October doesnt represent the final whistle - as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has to first pass its decision back to the British courts - it is a case that looks deep into injury time.

Should the decision come down on the side of Karen Murphy the ruling could have as much impact upon the football industry as ECJ Case C-415/93, ECR I-4921 better known as the Bosman ruling.
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17-October-2010, 21:31

More on this :-

EU governments give evidence in Murphy satellite case

6 October, 2010

By James Wilmore

But long-running test case will drag on until next year

Legal representatives from governments across Europe were among those to give evidence to a panel of 13 judges in Luxembourg today as part of the on-going landmark case involving foreign satellite football.

From what started out as an appeal by Portsmouth licensee Karen Murphy has mushroomed into a case of European-wide significance.

The Publican was there to see the UK, Czech Republic, Spanish and Italian governments all state their arguments, during proceedings at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) this morning.

However, the case will drag on until next year. The ECJ's advocate general will give an opinion on January 13. The court will then present its judgement, expected three or four months later. This will be sent to the UK's High Court, which will sit again to make a final ruling.

The case, which was referred to the ECJ by the UK’s High Court in 2008, is looking at whether the EU law on the free movement of goods should be applied to decoder cards, used by pubs to access Premier League football.

The UK’s advocate called for a “careful balance to be struck between rights-holders, service providers and consumers”.

She argued the European Commission, which submitted a report on the case, had “misunderstood” legislation around section 297 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act.

“The fact is 297 is to prevent fraud and nothing to do with territorial fragmentation, and does not seek to protect the interests of the FAPL (FA Premier League),” she told the court.

The Spanish government agreed that upholding the appeal would amount to “legalising fraudulent practice.”

But an advocate for the European Commission argued the problem was that content, apart from Premier League football, was not available to viewers outside of the country where a decoder card originates. “Here you have a wide variety of coverage that is blocked,” he said. “This seems like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”


Earlier, James Mellor, representing the FA Premier League, argued the case was about “obtaining cards by deception”, as false names and addresses were used to obtain them.

If Murphy’s appeal was upheld he said it would have “serious ramifications for all broadcasters”. He also said programme rights would be sold on a pan-European basis, instead of to individual countries. “This would lead to a distorted market and be detrimental to the consumer,” he said.

On the issue of the closed period, which prevents pubs showing games at 3pm on a Saturday, a representative for Media Protection Services said it would damage football “as a whole”, if it was not there.

However, Martin Howe, representing the suppliers, including QC Leisure, said the current situation had “reduced competition and deprived consumers of choice and culture”.

He argued the FAPL had attempted to use “artificial barriers” around satellite broadcasts that were “disproportionate.” He concluded that the argument the market should be regulated is “entirely contrary to the aim of the (EU) treaty, which is to create a single market”.

Marie Demetriou, representing Murphy, who was not present in court, argued the decoder cards were not “illicit” devices, as they had been placed on the market by the broadcasters.

She said the reason the FAPL were using the barriers was to “maximise revenue”. “This is not justification for serious infringement of free movement,” she said.
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03-February-2011, 15:22

Premier League TV football choice 'upheld' by EU advice

Karen Murphy used the Greek firm Nova to show Premier League game
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 and ESPN have the broadcast rights to 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.

TV money has helped bring top foreign names into English football
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."

Karen Murphy on why she took her fight to Europe, speaking in October 2010

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.

Could be good news for everyone then!
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Unlucky Rupert!!!!!!
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Unlucky Rupert!!!!!! - 03-February-2011, 15:57

Premier League - Pub landlady ushers in TV football rights revolution

A pub landlady from Portsmouth has won a court case that means football fans will be allowed to use cheap foreign TV decoders to watch Premier League matches.

The landmark decision by an adviser to Europe's top court is expected to have a huge impact on the way the Premier League sells broadcasting rights.

The opinion by Advocate General Juliane Kokott at the European Court of Justice centres on whether a rights holder such as the Premier League can license its content on a country-by-country basis, allowing it to maximise the value of its rights, as it currently does.

Kokott's opinion concerned two cases, one of them involving landlady Karen Murphy, who owns the 'Red, White and Blue' in Portsmouth.

Murphy acquired a Greek decoder to show Premier League games on her pub TV, on the grounds that the Sky Sports monthly subscription was prohibitively expensive.

She was subsequently sued by a body representing the broadcasting interests of the 20 English Premier League clubs, and appealed to the ECJ after losing her case in an English court and being ordered to pay a fine.

The second case involved the FA Premier League against two suppliers of foreign satellite equipment. The English body had earlier settled with a number of pub landlords who had used the decoders to show football matches.

Though Kokott's ruling is officially non-binding, judges are expected to back the advocate general's line in the majority of cases.

"The exclusivity agreement relating to transmission of football matches is contrary to European Union law," Kokott 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."

The Premier League has benefited in recent years from the huge demand for its rights and has taken action against a number of persistent offenders who have shown live games using decoders with viewing cards for foreign broadcasters.

But Kokott said such use did not undermine the economic benefits of the rights holders.

"There is ... no specific right to charge different prices for a work in each member state," she said.

BSkyB's Sky Sports, which owns the right to show most of the matches shown live in Britain and Ireland, makes about 200 million in revenues from pubs and clubs according to analysts at Jefferies Research.

They estimated an adverse ruling could have a 60m to 70m impact.

"However, given Sky's integral role in sports rights, we would expect the impact to be muted with (the Premier League) to offer remedies to limit the impact," Jefferies Research wrote in a client note ahead of the adviser's opinion.

Reuters / Eurosport

(03-February-2011 16:03)
"Karen Murphy may not have the balls ,,, but she has* certainly got courage, and conviction of her thoughts* !!
Fantastic girl, well done,, !! maybe now pubs can* offer "happy hours" during footy games now* they are going to either save money ,, or not pay out* for an over expensive "privilege" to show the* "peoples game ",,

Portsmouth for a seaside* weekend break in the summer ?,, I know what pub I will* be heading for & show my support for a lioness* !

Cheerz..Keep the hobby alive..


Last edited by red1; 03-February-2011 at 16:03.. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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03-February-2011, 16:05

feckin brill,

looks like im going to get busy fitting systems into pubs!!!!!

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-vs-, bskyb, league, premier, rupert!!!!!!, unlucky

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