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Dave Beans

Could This Prove To Be The Beginning Of The End For Sky & The Premier League?

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

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.

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”

Karen Murphy

As 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."

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 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 underestimated, according to Mr Dunne.

He says: "This case has the potential to become the Bosman of broadcasting," - the Bosman ruling being 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.

Listen to Adrian Goldberg's full report on BBC Radio 5 live on Sunday, 3 October at 2100 BST

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."

If she wins of course...

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Quite the opposite. Sky will buy the whole of Europe's rights and up the price to match the UK, Europe wide.

Europeans will stop watching but they will keep the same income if not more.

If Europeans stop watching, advertising revenue drops

This will hurt Sky and Premier league footballer wages, not football fans

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Quite the opposite. Sky will buy the whole of Europe's rights and up the price to match the UK, Europe wide.

Europeans will stop watching but they will keep the same income if not more.

http://europa.eu/pol/comp/index_en.htm

I know Murdoch has his fingers in multiple pies, but I doubt the EU would ever approve such an idea if things tried to go that way...

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Quite the opposite. Sky will buy the whole of Europe's rights and up the price to match the UK, Europe wide.

Europeans will stop watching but they will keep the same income if not more.

What is more liley is that the PL will stop selling "live" rights to the rest of the world and just sell delayed rights.

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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.

That sounds like a solid argument based on my knowledge of how Europe works the free movement of goods and services.

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The prices are ridiculous. One of the cruise lines down in Southampton pays 1.5m per season the rights to broadcast the EPL for 10 ships.

couple of hundred quid per game per ship.

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Why on Earth does it cost £1,000 a month in a pub, but only £35 for a household, when the product is identical for both?

It's on the basis that 100+ people might be watching.

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Quite the opposite. Sky will buy the whole of Europe's rights and up the price to match the UK, Europe wide.

Europeans will stop watching but they will keep the same income if not more.

Don't think Europe will roll over to be tickled by Citizen Murdoch.

Burlusconi's already working the same racket for a start. And European authorities are not all shamelssly bought and paid for

and hostile to their own nations and populations as ours.

As for Ped the Fed being forced to pay for socialised tv, eg the BBC, well boo feckin hoo.

I never hear Sky subscribers who pay twice as much for their content crying about being forced to watch adverts.

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I think the crux of the matter is, make it expensive for the local pub, so then they wont have it, then you have to subscribe yourself.. x 50

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to be fair to ol pedro,at least they have the choice.

£135 doesn't hurt me particualrly,but I would feel aggrieved to be forced to pay it if I was on min wage.It's the most regressive tax we have.

True enough, but neither doea anyone have to have a telly. Might be better if more people didn't.

For all the faults of the BBC, zionist propaganda, failure to challenge popular assumptions etc., I think we are a better society for having it. If the likes of Murdoch and Berlusconi where allowed to run rampant and unchallenged both quality and democracy would be the casualties.

Check Russia foe an example outside the EU. And the USA of course.

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Thanks to the OP for posting - please can you keep us updated as to the outcome?

My local has this setup with most games on the NOVA station out of Greece. The coverage is excellent quality and the pub is very well supported. Sometimes they have an Italian feed from SKY DIRETTA and sometimes a Scandinavian (Danish I think) feed. The commentary is in english and the halftime coverage is usually just the goals from all the games or else some fit European bird warbling on. In all aspects preferable to that knob Andy Gray.

His pub appears to thrive, the beer's still reasonable value (£2.30 for a pint of Boddies), it's a better atmosphere than staying at home, and nobody pays Murdoch. What's not to like?

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Thanks to the OP for posting - please can you keep us updated as to the outcome?

My local has this setup with most games on the NOVA station out of Greece. The coverage is excellent quality and the pub is very well supported. Sometimes they have an Italian feed from SKY DIRETTA and sometimes a Scandinavian (Danish I think) feed. The commentary is in english and the halftime coverage is usually just the goals from all the games or else some fit European bird warbling on. In all aspects preferable to that knob Andy Gray.

His pub appears to thrive, the beer's still reasonable value (£2.30 for a pint of Boddies), it's a better atmosphere than staying at home, and nobody pays Murdoch. What's not to like?

Yep, I'll try & monitor it over the next week.. Two or three years ago, I remember walking into a pub in Camden on a Saturday afternoon, and they had a Spurs game on. The commentary was in english too.

If you watch any of the games via live streaming (naughty, naughty), I'd say 90% of the streams all come from either Sky or ESPN with english commentary.

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Will this mean a cheaper pint? This could cause a big problem for Sky, does anyone know if you are watching say the Greek feed in your own home are you breaking UK copyright law as well?

I'm hoping Sky get shafted on this and they are forced to reduce their prices, I'm not surprised it's hardly been covered in the media.

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True enough, but neither doea anyone have to have a telly. Might be better if more people didn't.

For all the faults of the BBC, zionist propaganda, failure to challenge popular assumptions etc., I think we are a better society for having it. If the likes of Murdoch and Berlusconi where allowed to run rampant and unchallenged both quality and democracy would be the casualties.

Check Russia foe an example outside the EU. And the USA of course.

So having state controlled medium is worth compulsory tariffs for holding a receiver? Not logical.

I back choice every time.

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Oh god, this thread didn't even make it past one page before it descended into a license fee argument. And it wasn't even about the BBC to start with!

Anyway, FWIW I think her argument is cobblers. A pub is paying SKY for a license to broadcast a live sports event - hence because it's a public broadcast in a pub, why they have to pay more than someone at home. Don't want to pay the SKY fee? Then don't show footy in your pub. It's the free market in action, so why is everyone getting worked up about it?

Buying a car is different because you're buying a physical object. The relevant road tax/insurance is closer to the SKY payment in this situation. You can't register a car in Greece but run it in the UK (on a permanent basis anyway).

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Oh god, this thread didn't even make it past one page before it descended into a license fee argument. And it wasn't even about the BBC to start with!

Anyway, FWIW I think her argument is cobblers. A pub is paying SKY for a license to broadcast a live sports event - hence because it's a public broadcast in a pub, why they have to pay more than someone at home. Don't want to pay the SKY fee? Then don't show footy in your pub. It's the free market in action, so why is everyone getting worked up about it?

Buying a car is different because you're buying a physical object. The relevant road tax/insurance is closer to the SKY payment in this situation. You can't register a car in Greece but run it in the UK (on a permanent basis anyway).

No the free market in action is YOU GET TO PICK THE SUPPLIER. Having only one supplier is not a free market it's a monopoly. The EU guarantees the free movement of goods and services, why shouldn't the pub be able to pick a Greek supplier over Sky?

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No the free market in action is YOU GET TO PICK THE SUPPLIER. Having only one supplier is not a free market it's a monopoly. The EU guarantees the free movement of goods and services, why shouldn't the pub be able to pick a Greek supplier over Sky?

You can get football on the BBC, ITV, ESPN... same as you can buy a BMW or a Merc, or an Audi. There's your choice.

You can't go to Hyundai and buy a BMW off them for Hyundai money can you?

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You can't go to Hyundai and buy a BMW off them for Hyundai money can you?

But, uh, this is the equivalent of Hyundai _offering_ to sell you a BMW for Hyundai money and BMW preventing them from doing so.

I've never understood how it could be legal in the EU myself... and I certainly don't see how someone could be fined for buying a product from a Greek company rather than a British company.

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But, uh, this is the equivalent of Hyundai _offering_ to sell you a BMW for Hyundai money and BMW preventing them from doing so.

I've never understood how it could be legal in the EU myself... and I certainly don't see how someone could be fined for buying a product from a Greek company rather than a British company.

Because the license from the Greek company is only valid in Greece. You're not actually buying anything other than a license to view the match; and according to the terms of the license it is only valid in the country(ies) that the Premier League have negotiated with. In the UK that is SKY and ESPN and BBC for highlights (not including repeats, hence why MotD is not on iPlayer).

This is the knowledge economy - licences, IP, patents etc. without them we would make even less money than we do now.

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Because the license from the Greek company is only valid in Greece.

And?

How is that any different from the old scenario where car companies said you were only allowed to buy RHD cars in Britain and not in mainland Europe? How, within EU law, can you artificially prevent anyone from buying a product from another EU nation?

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And?

How is that any different from the old scenario where car companies said you were only allowed to buy RHD cars in Britain and not in mainland Europe? How, within EU law, can you artificially prevent anyone from buying a product from another EU nation?

I vaguely remember a "big scandal" about 10 years ago, whereby it was more expensive to buy a RHD car in Britain, than it was in mainland Europe. Many ppl decided to ship a lot of new cars through Holland to get around this, and there were quite significant savings to be had.

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I vaguely remember a "big scandal" about 10 years ago, whereby it was more expensive to buy a RHD car in Britain, than it was in mainland Europe. Many ppl decided to ship a lot of new cars through Holland to get around this, and there were quite significant savings to be had.

Yeah, I thought it was the EU courts that stopped the British companies from preventing such imports, but perhaps I'm mistaken?

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  • 146 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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