Major broadcast changes expected.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled that pubs in England are allowed to broadcast Premier League matches at 3pm on Saturdays via foreign decoders.
The decision by the ECJ will have major implications for how the Premier League sell their broadcast rights both in Britain and Europe.
The case came to the ECJ after Portsmouth pub landlady Karen Murphy appealed after losing a court action brought against her by the Premier League for using the Greek satellite decoder.
The case in the ECJ also involves the suppliers of such decoder cards to those pubs.
“A licence for the broadcasting of football matches which grants broadcasters territorial exclusivity on a member state basis and which prohibits television viewers from watching the broadcasts with a decoder card in other member states is contrary to EU law,” the ECJ said in a statement.
“National legislation which prohibits the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services.
“It cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums.”
The implications of the ruling will not just affect the Premier League but every sport that sells broadcast rights on a country-by-country basis.
It is also how UEFA, for example, sell the rights for the Champions League. It could also affect the sale of TV programmes generally across Europe.
The ECJ also ruled that only the opening video sequence and pre-recorded higlights clips of recent Premier League matches and various graphics could be protected by copyright.
“By contrast, the matches themselves are not works enjoying such protection,” says the ruling.
Pubs would have to obtain permission to broadcast those opening sequences, said the ruling, but not the match itself.