Landlady wins Premier League decoder case

09.44 Europe/London, October 4, 2011 By Julian Clover
The European Court of Justice has ruled that national laws that prohibit the import, sale of use of overseas smart cards are contary to the freedom to provide services.
The decision represents a victory for Karen Murphy, the Portsmouth pub landlady who had campaigned to use a subscription from the Greek Nova sat caster, rather than pay the rates set by Sky.
In its ruling the ECJ said the previous ban on overseas decoders could not “be justified either in the light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.
As well as a significant saving on what would be paid to Sky, foreign satellite services such as Nova are able to screen a 3.00pm Saturday kick-off, unable to be shown on British TV because of the desire to protect attendance at smaller clubs.
The UK rights holders Sky and ESPN now have to consider their position, as well as the Premier League itself, which commands a multi-million pound sum for the six UK packages. A particular issue will be the lucrative subscriptions paid to show Sky Sports in public venues.
Were the rights to be sold on a pan-European basis Sky, which through News Corp has related ventures in Germany and Italy, could easily outbid the smaller sums paid by platforms such as Nova.