No Free Trade for Satellite TV

Subscription to EU channels whilst in the UK

26th September

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Parliament meeting about Sky prices and legality of subscription to foreign TV

The cost of Sky for pubs and the current legal situation around foreign satellites will be debated during a meeting in Parliament next month.

MP John Grogan is hosting the meeting in the Palace of Westminster on October 20.

Speakers at the event will be Nick Bish and Kate Nicholls from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and lawyer Paul Dixon, a partner at legal firm Molesworth Bright Clegg.

Dixon has represented Portsmouth licensee Karen Murphy, who has had her appeal against a conviction for screening foreign satellite football referred to Europe.

Grogan, who previously hosted a meeting for the European Satellite TV Association (ESTA) in July last year, said: A number of MPs have been lobbied over the Parliamentary recess by publicans regarding the issue of the cost of installing Sky TV in licensed premises.

With the forthcoming court cases in Europe and the report of OfCom into the Pay TV market due by Christmas, I thought it was an appropriate time to raise the issue.


4th February

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European Court suggestion that free trade law allows subscription to mainland European TV services

Pub landlord Karen Murphy is defending her right to show English Premier League matches in her pub using a fully paid up subscription to Greek satellite TV.

In a decision that could change the way sports rights are sold across the continent, the European court of justice was advised that forbidding pubs from buying in cheap football coverage from overseas operators was incompatible with European free trade laws.

Murphy was taken to court by a company representing the league over her decision to import a Greek decoder to show the games rather than paying Sky, which holds the rights in the UK. She has fought the case all the way to the highest European court.

Juliane Kokott, one of the eight advocate generals of the European court of justice, advised that selling on a territory-by-territory basis represented a serious impairment of freedom to provide services , adding that the economic exploitation of the [TV] rights is  not undermined by the use of foreign decoder cards as the corresponding charges have been paid for those cards .

Because Murphy had paid the legitimate rights holder in Greece, she was entitled to receive its satellite broadcasts. Whilst those charges are not as high as the charges imposed in the UK there is ... no specific right to charge different prices for a work in each member state, Kokott said. Selling on a basis of territorial exclusivity was tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market .

Kokott's opinion is not binding, but the Luxembourg court usually follows the advice of advocate generals. The court is expected to deliver its verdict later this year. As well as the criminal case against Murphy, civil cases against two importers of the decoder cards are being considered in parallel.


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