EU Premier League ruling

The European Union’s highest court has ruled that a public house landlord did not break the law in purchasing a foreign decoder card in order to broadcast discounted and censored Premier League football to her patrons. Despite paying over £1 billion for broadcast rights to the Premier League in the UK, the European Court of Justice has ruled that BSkyB could not prevent individuals from seeking better prices elsewhere in Europe, where rights are sold to other channels for a much lower price. The case has been viewed by some as a significant development for those looking to avoid costly subscription prices charged by domestic sports broadcasters, which can cost up to £12,000 per year for pub owners, in favour of broadcasters on the continent that charge much less for coverage of the same games.

However, the legal consequences of the ruling are yet to be analysed and some legal experts have suggested that the ruling may in fact equally strengthen the hand of the Premier League by reinforcing their right over copyrighted material. This means that the Premier League, which own the original rights to any footage, may be able to simply increase branding on the footage, preventing it being broadcasted in the UK without its permission. The case goes back to the British high court, which would be expected to uphold the ECJ’s ruling.