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EU Court Rules Against Exclusive TV Licensing Deal

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the slightly-less-seekable-rent dept.

EU 115

First time accepted submitter r5r5 writes "In possibly a ground-breaking rule, European Court of Justice ruled against exclusive rights to broadcast sporting events within a single member state. The motivation is that such an agreement would enable each broadcaster to be granted absolute territorial exclusivity in the area covered by its licence and would therefore eliminate all competition between broadcasters in the field of those services and would thus partition the national markets in accordance with national borders. Could this be the beginning of dismounting the legacy system of exclusive distribution rights awarded to one company in one state?"

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115 comments

Are you ready for some football? (1)

Pat Attack (1353585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37748978)

Does this mean that I no longer have to deal with blackouts on local football games?

Re:Are you ready for some football? (1)

xSander (1227106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749430)

Europe != USA

Though I think these blackouts are set in contracts with the TV networks? This does not apply to blacking out foreign TV networks of course, like Canadian networks showing the same game.

Re:Are you ready for some football? (0)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749530)

You do know that we Europeans call Football to what you call Soccer, right? Why do you assume parent is from the US?

Re:Are you ready for some football? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749786)

Local blackouts from the USA's perspective is not showing a game locally, but can be seen elsewhere, even if it's only the next state over. This normally happens in American Football when a side does not sell all of its seats (or extremely high percentage of them) a few days before the game. The NFL will then rule that that game cannot be shown to that club's locals.

The idea being that you're more likely to go to the game when it's not on TV. But the reality is it only reduces exposure to the local side reducing general interest, resulting in less people wanting to spend $100 a ticket. At least until the side gets a good run going and all the glory-boys come out of the woodwork.

Clearly you cannot do this with satellite TV in the UK. Which is why local blackouts do not affect satellite coverage of NFL games. But as 99% of people have cable, and not dishes, the satellite services get NFL deals as a whole.

Re:Are you ready for some football? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37750060)

"Are you ready for some football." Was, until recently, the famous phrase starting Monday Night Football in the US. Using that phrase on a US-centric website immediately makes [most] people think of US football (gridiron or whatever it's called).

Re:Are you ready for some football? (1)

xSander (1227106) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750066)

I'm from Europe. :)

I assumed parent is from the US because I've never heard of local blackouts in soccer.

Re:Are you ready for some football? (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752248)

The 3pm Saturday games in England are not broadcast in the UK, but you can watch them on Greek TV. I guess that is an example of a local blackout.

Re:Are you ready for some football? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37750468)

As in, we actually play it with our feet.

Re:Are you ready for some football? (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753328)

I know you're asking about Football, but I wanted to mention something.

I work for a cable company, and the reason for blackouts at baseball games is quite often not broadcasting rights arguments but the games being blacked out by the MLB itself to increase attendance of the game, or the team, because if attendance is low they don't want the empty stands shown on television.

Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749010)

Wow. A free market. What's next, sound money?

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (2)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749048)

Well, I think you'll find that the extreme economic liberals consider exclusive licensing to be 'free market' since the event organiser should have the right to sell the broadcasting rights in whatever way he wishes.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

flaming error (1041742) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750854)

Well, these "exteme economic liberals" might have a point.

Sports are so broadly popular and such a part of public life and politics that I don't generally think of them as "private" business. But they are privately owned.

It seems a little unlikely that they'd make more money with exclusive licensing than with open competition, but I guess that's their business.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751062)

Well, these "exteme economic liberals" might have a point.

Sports are so broadly popular and such a part of public life and politics that I don't generally think of them as "private" business. But they are privately owned.

It seems a little unlikely that they'd make more money with exclusive licensing than with open competition, but I guess that's their business.

OK, I'm lost here - economic liberals? What what?

The tendency toward monopolies or collusion I mostly associate with conservatives, those in big business where the need to make huge wads of cash trump the rights of the masses. They've corrupted sports to the point the games have modified their schedules and how the game is played (TV time-outs) to best benefit revenue production.

Exclusive rights to a territory means the broadcaster can charge high advertising rates, stick the viewers with whatever pundits they feel like and rake in the money. Sadly, the Football Association of England (FA) have happily gone along with this because they get a cut of it, which they claim helps fund development of sports, etc.

Consider if you will: Two (or more) broadcasters carrying the same match to the same market and each making revenue based upon which delivers the best product - better pundits, better camera work, better replays, whatever. It's the business model they don't want to contemplate, because it means they'd have to work for the money, rather than have laws which guarantee them a market.

By definition a Conservative wants to preserve the Status Quo, while a Liberal wants to challenge it. So who is the Liberal and who is the Conservative?

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

Zironic (1112127) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752408)

No, by definition Liberal means Free and a Liberal is someone that wants to achieve it. You're just confused by the fact that Social Liberals are in opposition to Social Conservatives.

A Social Liberal is someone that believes that in order for people to be free the government has to guarantee certain rights (Exactly which ones can be debated, but you're probably used to seeing ones like access to education and healthcare).

An Economic Liberal is someone that believes that in order for people to be free the government has to guarantee freedom of transaction(Free Market).

Liberalism as a whole contains both of these elements and can be balanced various ways. Libertarians and Democrats are both Liberals, they're just approaching the same thing from opposite directions.

You might want to read up on what Liberalism means, you can start at Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism [wikipedia.org]

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

Muros (1167213) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752504)

The television station's choice of pundits & commentators is pretty easy to get around. I know of a radio station that encourages their listeners who have Sky Sports to watch the games on it muted, while listening to them on the radio. Many people do.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

brokeninside (34168) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751194)

Not really, it's an equivocal use of the word "free."

Economic liberals put an emphasis on the free market in the sense of the technical, economic use of the term by economists. They describe markets where any consumer can purchase a good from any supplier. Exclusivity agreements, by their very nature, erode free markets in the economic sense.

But there are also some political liberals (specifically of the libertarian bent) that put so much emphasis on the freedom of individuals that they believe that individual consumers and producers should have the freedom to enter in exclusivity agreements regardless of their impact on free markets.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749276)

What's next, sound money?

While certainly an interesting concept, the non-durable nature of sound makes it not very suitable to use as money. :-)

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (2)

cHiphead (17854) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749338)

LOL. Here come the metanationals, you idiot. There will be on licensed group for the entire EU, and the small time broadcasters will have to pay up to this 'middle man' of a sorts for broadcast rights. Prices will be driven up, advertising prices will be driven up, sports attendance prices will be driven up. God bless the free market (even though there is nothing actually free about it).

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (3, Interesting)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749592)

It sounds good, but the ruling has loopholes you could drive a bus through. Specifically, while the match itself cannot be subject to exclusivity agreements, any copyrighted material (theme tunes and title sequences before the ad breaks, the little logo in the bottom right of the screen, the commentary, etc.) can still be controlled as the copyright holder wishes.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750208)

Indeed. It's already been said that quick solution is to simply put a copyrighted watermark somewhere in the video. Voila, it's exempt from the ruling.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37750610)

That's fine. Those elements are not part of the event. The pool feed which already exists to feed the various broadcasters does not have that. Now, if they start eliminating pool feeds, then you have a problem. I suspect the court would quickly address that as well.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752270)

Broadcasters do their own commentary, and they could replace all the other things with their own logos, theme tunes etc.

Re:Competition? Who'd a thunk. (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750010)

Err, actually I think the most likely outcome is sporting rights only being sold to companies who are rich enough to buy the global - or pan-European - rights. That probably means Murdocjh and a few others and it probably means that they will be able to beat the sporting bodies down in price since there will be so few broadcasters able to afford global rights. ... I suppose Eurovision might be able to bid as a cartel.

This is a front page submission? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749024)

Really? Caliber of this submission is right up there with "Paper prices go up a little at Staples", or "Lady's horse is sick".

The point of the ruling... (5, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749050)

Is to support the legal position that a citizen of an EU member state cannot be restricted from purchasing goods or services from any other member state - this is a rule that has been in position for years, and the FA were trying to have it not applied to their TV rights (as they gain billions from UK tv rights to Sky, which are now massively devalued).

It doesn't affect purchases of goods and services from outside of the EU.

Apple underwent a similar issue a few years ago over their iTunes store restrictions within the EU.

Re:The point of the ruling... (2)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749126)

Is to support the legal position that a citizen of an EU member state cannot be restricted from purchasing goods or services from any other member state - this is a rule that has been in position for years, and the FA were trying to have it not applied to their TV rights (as they gain billions from UK tv rights to Sky, which are now massively devalued).>

Killing exclusivity would devalue the rights, but you could have effective exclusivity. eg it would not be in the interests of a sporting governing body (or whoever negotiates the TV rights) to sell the same package to two different broadcasters if the income from the two deals was less than the income from a single exclusive partner. So you could negotiate non-exclusive rights with eg a Satellite firm, on the understanding that anybody else that wanted rights would have to buy the same package, effectively pricing the competition out of the picture. It might even INCREASE the value of the rights, though ultimately hitting consumers.

Re:The point of the ruling... (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749194)

The case which this ruling is based on is down to Pub and Bar related viewing subscriptions for Sky, which cost venues significant amounts of money in the Uk. This particular venue bought a Greek satellite package for a fraction of the cost - and with this ruling supporting that ability, it basically means that Sky now has lost a significant portion of it's UK revenue because they can legally go elsewhere for the sae service at a fraction of the cost.

No juggling of rights packages is going to recover that revenue stream, especially as the rights packages are controlled in part by UK monopolies law.

Just to note, I fully support the ruling.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749246)

"Sky now has lost a significant portion of it's UK revenue"

We'll see about that. It's still early days.

If Sky plasters it's logos all over the broadcast, the 'distributing copyrighted material' issue will raise it's ugly head.

I fully support the ruling too.

Re:The point of the ruling... (2)

haystor (102186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749348)

The thing is, the Greeks have purchased broadcast rights separately. They were restricted to broadcasting in Greece only. Now they can broadcast cheaply purchased games in any country in the EU. This will either mean games will become less available in other countries as the big countries don't want to cannibalize their own market, or there will be a massive revenue hit as everyone picks up a satellite to broadcast games from the least expensive country.

Btw, this is *not* a free market solution because it is the government imposing a restriction on what may be agreed upon between consenting parties.

Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (3, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749432)

Btw, this is *not* a free market solution because it is the government imposing a restriction on what may be agreed upon between consenting parties.

The whole concept of a ban on unauthorized decryption of satellite transmissions is a government-imposed restriction anyway.

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749514)

All laws of possession are government imposed restrictions, this is no different.

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749566)

So where do "laws of possession" end and "breaking the free market" begin?

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749914)

Who says there needs to be a relationship?

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750020)

The U.S. Constitution mentions both liberty and property. The Fifth Amendment prohibits taking of "life, liberty, or property, without due process of law" by the federal government, and the Fourteenth extends this to the governments of the several states. Plenty of policy decisions hinge on where to draw the line between liberty, or what one may do, and property, or what one has the right with the state's backing to prevent others from doing.

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752098)

Copyright is not a property right.

In that case, what is property? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753194)

If copyrights and patents are not property, then what does property mean other than a transferable state-backed right to exclude people from doing something specific?

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750288)

Only if you don't consider property rights as innate human rights. In the US, rights are generally considered as recognized by the government, not granted.

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750858)

I don't consider any rights as innate or inherent - there in-fact rights we grant each other, however there is no natural right to possession as there is nothing to stop me taking the item other than yourself or those around you willing to stop me.

So my position is that there is a difference between a right we grant each other, and a right the government grants us (or recognises the right that we grant each other).

Possession law is the first right - its one we grant each other, and one we use the government to enforce.

Re:Treat government-imposed restrictions the same (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37753688)

All laws of possession are government imposed restrictions, this is no different.

Only if you believe that man has no natural rights.

Re:The point of the ruling... (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749638)

This will either mean games will become less available in other countries as the big countries don't want to cannibalize their own market, or there will be a massive revenue hit as everyone picks up a satellite to broadcast games from the least expensive country.

More likely that Greece would no longer be able to afford the broadcast rights or at least not be able to get them as cheaply. With the whole EU open to them, the broadcasters will no longer consider Greece's geographical borders and internal TV market as a factor for pricing.

This ruling will benefit UK subscribers in the short term, but Greece may ultimately suffer from it.

Btw, this is *not* a free market solution because it is the government imposing a restriction on what may be agreed upon between consenting parties.

Depends on what you mean by "free market solution". You are absolutely correct about this not being a laissez-faire economy. However, laissez-faire doesn't necessarily equate to free market capitalism. It just moves monopolistic powers from the government to the private entities.

The EU ruling prevents the private parties from creating monopolies amongst themselves. When most people talk about a "free market solution", they mean a market where open competition exists. The EU ruling reenforces that economy at least in the EU.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750296)

Btw, this is *not* a free market solution because it is the government imposing a restriction on what may be agreed upon between consenting parties.

That is not a requirement for a free market, and can in fact make a market unfree. Consenting parties can decide to form a cartel or monopoly, for example. What this decision seems to do, is to ban certain restrictions on the market, thereby definitely making this market more free.

A free market, like any other kind of freedom, requires protection. Or do you think slavery is freedom?

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752460)

Pure free market solutions can lead to pure chaos, where the market is only free for those with the control of the market and shafts the customers because they have no alternative place to go. Government controls provide a set a game rules, that while making the market less free, provides a better solution for those consuming the products of the sellers and forces the those sellers to be more 'fair' in their dealings.

Think of a free market as a kid who is allowed his freedoms, until he uses them to abuse others. At that point if he can't be responsable, then he will lose some freedoms. Use your freedoms wisely.

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37753610)

It isn't a free market solution. But then, you shouldn't expect one.

Broadcasters wanted exclusive territorial rights, even though the content they are broadcasting is being sold at different prices to other broadcasters (in other territories). Viewers then, are left with a single choice of which broadcaster to choose from in order to view that content. A free market would have zero issues with broadcasters forming exclusive agreements. But then, a free market would have zero issues with viewers picking up a satellite and receiving a greek broadcast in the UK.

A free market would not impose restrictions on UK viewers based on an agreement between a sporting association and a broadcaster. The association and broadcaster can make any agreements they bloody well like. But then viewers should also have the same courtesy.

The greek broadcaster purchased the rights to broadcast in Greece only.. but the satellite broadcast wasn't ever going to only be in Greece. If it were, this story wouldn't be a story. Because nobody in the UK with a satellite could recieve the greek broadcast. So, really, the greeks and the football association agreed to something that both parties knew wasn't going to be adhered to.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

yacc143 (975862) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749500)

Not really. If they plaster the broadcast via putting advertisements around the football field, it's irrelevant. And the Greek (or whoever) sat provider won't be adding Sky commercials. The only way for Sky to have an exclusive product would be to add some value itself, e.g. having a known and liked moderator.

Actually, the ruling is not really about exclusivity. It's about cracking down on rights owners that try segment the European market into tiny national segments. The ruling is not surprising, as the common market has been one of the basic fundamental dogmas of the EU. Any other ruling would have been akin to the Pope introducing female priests and bishops. Or declaring Jesus to be just a human.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749564)

I didn't mean the hoarding around the pitch.

There's the logo saying "SKY HD 2" in the top corner, there's their match timer in the other corner and there's the team list scrolled along the bottom within the first 5 minute of each half.

I cannot believe Sky will take this lying down.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749670)

That's true of the UK stream but not necessarily true of the Greek one, depending on who broadcasts those matches in Greece. I seem to recall reading somewhere that the commentary was in Greek so there may well have been logos of the Greek broadcaster all over the footage rather than Sky's.

Re:The point of the ruling... (3, Informative)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749690)

That is applied by Sky, not the company that provides the game footage - that is provided unbranded to the rights holders who provide their own commentary, advertising, logos and analysis.

In this case, the Greek rights holder would not be restricted by Sky at all, because they are not taking their feed.

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749706)

Well, it shouldn't matter. If they are granting some operator in Greece a license to broadcast the channel via, that operator cannot be restricted to only selling those services to Greek-only customers. That was the original basis of the European trade agreements, it's just that broadcasters have been ignoring the law up until now and nobody's challenged it in court. Now someone has, and the law has been upheld.

It doesn't matter what the contents of the broadcast is if the Greek operator has a licence to broadcast it. They've bought the right to it, and anyone who's bought a "pub decryption card" has the right to to decrypt that broadcast and show it in a pub. That was always the case before legally, it's now been made explicitly in this case.

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749602)

If Sky plasters it's logos all over the broadcast, the 'distributing copyrighted material' issue will raise it's ugly head.

I don't think we're talking about a Greek broadcaster showing Sky's footage and/or commentary; the publicans' issue was with Sky's complaints against them showing Greek footage of the games. Copyright shouldn't affect two parties covering the same event with their own equipment.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749606)

No juggling of rights packages is going to recover that revenue stream, especially as the rights packages are controlled in part by UK monopolies law.

I am not so sure. Since Sky can't maintain a monopoly in England, the value of their rights are reduced. They will demand that the soccer league stop selling undervalued rights to the Greek broadcaster, or sell them at a price that equals the English value.

Ultimately, either the Greek broadcaster looses right to the football matches, or they need to charge the same as Sky.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749718)

Hence my mention of UK monopolies law - the FA are already restricted in what they can sell solely to Sky in the UK, so what do you think the position will be if the FA demand other rights purchasers have to sell to viewers at a set rate?

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749990)

The publican "Karen Murphy" bought a domestic subscription.

So - if and when Sky and the F.A. place copyrightable material on the broadcasts - the publican would be unable to use a domestic subscription without the agreement of the copyright holders.

I think the ruling clarifies the situation - but I don't expect publicans to get away without paying for a commercial license.

Declaration - I don't visit pubs and I don't like football - pretty much like most of the crowd here ....

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

qpqp (1969898) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749322)

This, and besides, who mentioned that exclusive pan-EU deals are out of the question? The rights are sold to a conglomerate, who then distributes the rights on a network level.

Re:The point of the ruling... (5, Informative)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749212)

Just to clarify, the reason why this is so important has little to do with individuals buying the sports channels and everything to do with venues that want to show them.

The UK only has one satellite broadcaster - Sky - and that satellite broadcaster has an exclusive deal with the Football Association for broadcast of UK football matches. Anyone wanting to watch a UK football match on the TV basically has to watch it on Sky. (Those using cable instead of satellite, the cable company pays Sky and pushes the same channel over the cable).

A normal Sky subscription comes with a contract that states "You're not allowed to use this for a public showing of an event" - pubs are meant to contact Sky to purchase a special subscription that has no such restriction in the contract. That subscription's something like ten times the price of the one sold to domestic customers - and lots of pubs simply don't have the turnover to buy something for ten times the price.

So a lot of pubs have either bought a domestic subscription and hoped nobody notices - or a subscription from a satellite broadcaster based in continental Europe (who don't charge absurdly expensive prices). Surprise surprise, Sky went ballistic. They had an exclusive license to be the only broadcaster in the UK which this sort of thing undermines; they've been using every bullying tactic in the book to force pubs to buy the UK commercial subscription and now they can't.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749424)

Just to clarify, there are four major football rights packages in the UK, and sky is limited in what percentage of total games the can buy.

Re:The point of the ruling... (2)

dkf (304284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749488)

So a lot of pubs have either bought a domestic subscription and hoped nobody notices - or a subscription from a satellite broadcaster based in continental Europe (who don't charge absurdly expensive prices). Surprise surprise, Sky went ballistic. They had an exclusive license to be the only broadcaster in the UK which this sort of thing undermines; they've been using every bullying tactic in the book to force pubs to buy the UK commercial subscription and now they can't.

The FA have two basic options at this point: they must either persuade satellite broadcasters outside the UK to not sell to the UK market despite the law permitting them to do so, or not sell to them at all. The second option is most certainly permitted, but will cause quite a hit to their income (as UK Premiership soccer is mysteriously very popular) and the first option is going to be a very difficult set of negotiating as the broadcasters in other states will not be willing to give up the right to cross-sell that they've now got.

It's all very amusing to me.

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749632)

That subscription's something like ten times the price of the one sold to domestic customers - and lots of pubs simply don't have the turnover to buy something for ten times the price.

They should simply do what pubs in Canada and the USA do; sell the drinks at ten times the price.

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749694)

Actually, it's not the FA, but the Premier League. Each league has the rights to sell their games to anyone that can afford them. The FA is only concerned about the FA cup, trophy and vase, plus England international games. Ever other football game is owned by someone else, normally the league a give side (not club) is associated to.

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749916)

It's a little more subtle than this - Live Events are NOT covered under copyright legislation in the EU.
So - because of this new ruling there would be absolutely no restrictions on broadcasters selling across regions.

HOWEVER - the ruling allows a get out of jail card - IF the FA ( or any Live Event provider ) add copyrightable material to their broadcast then any PUBLIC broadcast would be a copyright violation.

So - for private individuals the net result of the combined ruling is that you can buy your football anywhere in the EU and equally watch it anywhere in the EU.

BUT - and here's the rub - pubs and clubs will NOT be able to buy a DOMESTIC subscription and show it in a pub - because it would be a PUBLIC showing - and assuming the event provider adds sufficient copyrightable material this would be a violation of copyright.

It *may* mean that a commercial license for the games *could* allow cross border selling - BUT again it would require an agreement from the event provider ( in this case the Football Association ) if sufficient copyrightable 'features' were added to the broadcast.

Simple.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750008)

The UK only has one satellite broadcaster - Sky

That's one in addition to the one I subscribe to: Freesat.

I so wish this would be the beginning of the end of being deprived of our national sports by the Murdoch clan. I'd love to be able to watch the Ashes again for the first time in 20 years. Too bad for the Premier League... maybe they will have to start a home grown training programme instead of buying in the best from the rest of world.

Re:The point of the ruling... (1)

jonbryce (703250) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752344)

Actually ESPN, owned by Disney show some Premier League matches, and all of the Scottish league matches. They have a slot on Sky, on Top-up TV (terrestial pay tv) and Virgin (cable).

Re:The point of the ruling... (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752616)

Please stop assuming that everyone is European, football = SOCCER in this case, as opposed to real football.

Lite Legal Analysis of Trade in the EU (1)

Venner (59051) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750290)

Just to supply some more information:

The EU Treaty establishes four fundamental "internal market freedoms" which are the free movement of goods, services, people, and capital within the EU, without regard to national borders.

Article 28 of the Treaty affirmatively prohibits "quantitative restrictions" on trade. The court in du Roi (Procureur du Roi v Dassonville (1974)) found a "quantitative restriction" to be anything "capable of hindering, directly or indirectly, actually or potentially, intra-community trade." That's a very broad definition.

Article 30 exempts "Industrial Property" -- so, patents as defined under the Paris Convention -- but not copyrights under the Berne convention. If I recall correctly, that argument had been tried, and the Court found that the distribution right under Berne was curtailed by the prohibition on artificial partitioning of the markets under the EU treaty.

So overall it's not hard to see why the court would find such an exclusivity agreement to a single nation to be invalid.

The ruined it! (1, Funny)

poofmeisterp (650750) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749060)

They ruined monopoly!

Is my 'Get Out of Competition Free' card still valid?

Re:The ruined it! (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749416)

Yes, and it was played in Greece. They had every chance to bid on distribution of FA games in the UK but Sky secured that bid. Instead Greece played the "get out of competition free" card and used their contractually agreed right to broadcast in Greece to broadcast in the UK.

There is nothing remotely competitive about this. It is a complete undermining of contract law and the very essence of the competitive market.

Re:The ruined it! (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749736)

In the end, Greece may have cut off its nose to spite its face. When time to renew the contract comes around, they may not get a discounted price. Thanks to this ruling, the FA games will consider the fact that Greece is now legally able to sell to subscribers anywhere in the EU when negotiating the price of the broadcast rights.

Broadcasting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749856)

Broadcasting has no borders. This is the juridic proof of it.

Re:The ruined it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37752274)

It is a complete undermining of contract law and the very essence of the competitive market

Someone call the whaaaaambulance! Someone's butthurt because physics does not obey contract law and satellite signals don't obey geopolitical boundaries!

Re:The ruined it! (1)

xelah (176252) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752830)

There is nothing remotely competitive about this. It is a complete undermining of contract law and the very essence of the competitive market.

No, it isn't, because there was never a competitive market to begin with. It isn't possible for football to be a competitive market, and this extends to broadcasts for as long as clubs or their leagues have rights to restrict unauthorized broadcasts of games. It's not possible for it to be competitive because a Liverpool FC fan can't just switch to Everton if he things the prices are too high or the service too poor because they're not substitutes: being an Everton fan comes with a completely different group identity and so forth. A competitive market means that no buyer or seller has any significant power over prices and that simply isn't the case either for football clubs/leagues selling rights, broadcasters buying them or broadcasters selling them on to consumers.

Yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749068)

They will now be awarded to one company for all of europe. Yay!

Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749072)

Does the EU having common sense about stuff mean the USA will change one damm bit?

No. it won't change our tv mess at all.

Too big, been in control too long, far more money involved than the EU. Inertia going to keep it just like it is.

Re:Since when... (1)

haystor (102186) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749454)

Have you tried to keep up with soccer in the EU? Highlights from last nights game...here are the pictures. Yes, pictures because you don't get to see any video.

PPV is a regular occurrence for main stream sports over there, no such problem here. Only obscure sports like boxing or UFC or soccer from Europe get the PPV treatment.

What's that smell? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749076)

It's the smell of money, being counted and placed into neat little stacks, ready to purchase new legislation explicitly allowing exclusive distribution rights for copyrighted material.

Re:What's that smell? (1)

mrvan (973822) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749352)

That will not be so easy. Notice that this is not the committee, but the ECJ finding that based on the basic treaties of the Union this is not permissible, like how they said that transfer fees cannot be paid for players who are no longer under contract since that bars free movement of labour. To change this would require a revision of the EU treaties, which is not easy to accomplish. Sometimes, that's a bad thing; sometimes a good thing.

Re:What's that smell? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749366)

It's somewhat overpowered by the stench of knee-jerk cynicism.

Re:What's that smell? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749384)

AIUI that already exists - and indeed it's the legislation they'd been arguing under. But the court held that the game itself isn't a creative work so isn't subject to copyright.

The title music being broadcast at the beginning is, as is the intro sequence. But not the match itself.

No US Equivalent? (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749132)

The only one I can think of off the top of my head is the NFL's Game Day package, which is available only via satellite in the US, but is also on cable in Canada. But you still have the option of getting a satellite. All US sports are broken up into regional areas, which mostly makes sense because I don't think a whole lot of Philadelphians want to watch the LA Clippers. But, the sports leagues also have internet packages that give you access to every game.

So I'm thinking that the situation is completely different in the US than Europe.

Re:No US Equivalent? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749218)

The NFL package is one of the most expensive packages there is. Only one company has been willing to pony up for it. TW had it for a while but their negotiations recently broke down (someone not getting enough money). I never really did understand the concept of blackout in the first places. As those advert deals are huge. Why wouldnt you want extra eyes seeing it?

Re:No US Equivalent? (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750524)

Game blackouts exist because the teams would rather have locals sitting in the seats and buying stuff from the concession stands at twice normal price at the stadium than have them staying home watching the game on TV.

The nfl offered it to cable systems but they did n (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749462)

The nfl offered it to cable systems but they did not put the funds to buy it But also the NFL wanted to be open to as much as the USA as they can so cable only would of been a no go more so back when it came up lot's of systems / in demand did not have a lot of room and some cable systems did not even have to room to fit in all of the MLB EI/ NHL CI / MLS DK/ and NBA LP channels. Also fox, nbc (before fox had NFL games) and cbs had say when it got started and they did not like it as NFL broadcasts are the ratings drivers for the networks' local affiliates.

But in Canada the law says you can't have exclusive stuff like NFL ticket so it's open to any system.

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=easterbrook/071030 [go.com]

It also turned out that before digital cable, most cable carriers lacked the bandwidth to show multiple viewer-elected channels simultaneously, so in the 1990s, Sunday Ticket probably couldn't have gone on cable anyway.

In 2002, the DirecTV exclusive on Sunday Ticket expired. By then, digital cable was on the horizon and Sunday Ticket was widely expected to shift to cable. The cable carriers wanted games sold individually, pay-per-view. The league wanted an all-encompassing package,

A power struggle ensued, with the big egos in the executive suites of the cable carriers essentially saying, "We'll decide how to market your games." This not only offended the big egos in the executive suites of the NFL but was totally different from the league's traditional partnership relationships with the broadcast networks and ESPN. In the background, the cable carriers were jockeying against each other to start their own sports networks and were angered by rumors the NFL would found what became NFL Network. In December 2002, the league gave the cable carriers a deadline for an offer for Sunday Ticket; the deadline passed, so the league re-upped with DirecTV; the cable carriers then presented a too-late offer and issued press releases denouncing the league for not waiting.

what about across the whole of europe (1)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749170)

sounds like the EU would be ok with one broadcaster having the rights for the entirety of europe

Re:what about across the whole of europe (1)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750304)

sounds like the EU would be ok with one broadcaster having the rights for the entirety of europe

Courts only get to rule on the case in front of them, not some hypothetical other thing. In any case, the EU broke up the monopoly [bbc.co.uk] several years ago.

TV and football... Balance of power (4, Interesting)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749332)

A quick note to catch the Americans up on what matters most in the world:

Pubs in Britain had to pay more to show English games than pubs overseas because Sky (who held the British rights) charged more.

English football league is the richest in the world (most watched sports league in the world as a result)- in part because the TV money is so much higher there so it gets the best quality players.
A certain % of Sky's money there goes back to the clubs.

The English league will now lose some of the monetary advantage it had because Sky will have to compete with cheapo-European networks.

Recently Liverpool Football Club asked to be able to negotiate their own TV rights outside of the league. Their argument : we're a big club- we have more fans- more people turn on the telly to watch us than some of the smaller clubs- we should get more money than smaller clubs that no-one watches.

This was quickly shot down by everyone else who said it was a terrible idea. ESPECIALLY from the smaller clubs who would as a result get less money- but even some of the big clubs who would get more money as a result were not in favour.

This is actually how it works in Spain- where clubs like Real Madrid, and Barcelona have budgets that dwarf anyone else. Real Madrid and Barca are the big teams- they negotiate their own TV deals- and as a result have been (even before now) making more money than even the English teams- despite the Spanish league being poorer (wealthwise) in general.

Liverpool have a point though- now England is losing their advantage as a league- Real Madrid and Barcelona are going to have way more money than any club in England- because they get to negotiate their own deals. Being in England is no longer an advantage- so the wealth gap to the big Spanish teams will grow.

The tide of power that had been in England for a number of years is now going to shift back to Spain again because their clubs will have much bigger budgets.

Re:TV and football... Balance of power (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749812)

On the bright side (if you can call it that), the EU ruling could effectively give Sky satellite the ability to be the sole provider of English football league. I think it is more realistic that the EU ruling means that all satellite providers will now pay the same price regardless of their primary coverage area. So it may be more of a win for English football league.

Re:TV and football... Balance of power (1)

xelah (176252) | more than 2 years ago | (#37752974)

The English league will now lose some of the monetary advantage it had because Sky will have to compete with cheapo-European networks.

Or, rather, because it will have to sell to other networks at the same prices per viewer (or somesuch, I don't know how such contracts work) and have lost their ability to price-discriminate between markets with different price sensitivities. Sky would then no longer be competing with cheapo European broadcasters because they'd become similarly expensive European broadcasters....but that reduces the total money taken for customers because, one presumes, Greek viewers are more price sensitive in this market and so the optimal price in Greece is lower than the UK.

I suspect that the result will be that UK prices fall very little, European prices rise to almost match it (people will pay a little more to have it in English, I suppose), fewer Europeans will watch English football and less money will be taken overall.

What does Bernie say about this? (1)

rossdee (243626) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749346)

Bernie Ecclestone that is, owner of the FIA (Formula 1)

Re:What does Bernie say about this? (1)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749398)

I'm sure he isn't happy- because if it applies to Footie it applies to F1 too.

Also- as a part owner in a football team- he will lose out. TV rights will go down- and so less money will trickle back to the clubs- his investment. (and all English football clubs value) will go down as a result.

Re:What does Bernie say about this? (1)

Beyond_GoodandEvil (769135) | more than 2 years ago | (#37751600)

Bernie Ecclestone that is, owner of the FIA (Formula 1)
Point of order, Bernie Ecclestone owns(or is a partial owner w/ some Eurobanks) the FOM not the FIA. FOM is Formula One Managment, and Bernie will just charge the tracks more money to hold his races and recoup his losses there. Probably means the end of Silverstone, and Spa, but more races in unstable totalitarian regimes. The FIA is the sanctioning body for mulitple autoracing events not just F1.

Football == lame (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37749386)

Who the fuck cares? Is this site now "News For Jocks"? It's amazing how quickly the quality of this site has plummeted even more after Taco left (and it was already pretty shitty before he left to begin with). Oh what will I ever do if I can't see a bunch of sweaty men kicking a ball around and slapping each other's asses!?!

Re:Football == lame (3, Informative)

Oswald McWeany (2428506) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749934)

It is about football (for now)- but it has much wider implications.

For other sports, yes, but this has the ability to change how the whole information distribution across Europe changes.

Now Europe, for TV distribution sake, is one. What shows in Greece can be shown in England- What shows in Germany can be shown in Spain.

Local broadcasters cannot hold a monopoly on individual countries on anything. This could eventually turn into a big euro-fight of the media distributors and we could see a lot of mergers and aquisitions- and big european-wide media giants emerge.

Who's dismounting whom? (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749408)

"Could this be the beginning of dismounting the legacy system of exclusive distribution rights awarded to one company in one state?"

I would hope it would be the beginning of the legacy system dismounting the fans so they can have a break from being on the bottom in this situation.

Or did the OP mean to say "dismantling" ?

About time (1)

onyxruby (118189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37749562)

There is nothing more anti-capitalist than the exclusive contract. It's about time that the concept of the exclusive contract start to be found as the anti-competitive beast that it is.

Re:About time (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 2 years ago | (#37750360)

There is nothing MORE capitalist then a exclusive monopoly. The entire concept of capitalism is that CAPITAL is in control. Therefore capital should buy all other capital to get even more power (aka exclusive monopoly).

US ended with huge trusts in 1890s and early 1900s as a result of this, who bled the economy dry. In the end, they got so bad that antitrust legislation had to be enacted to avoid what would have essentially amounted to full blown and very inefficient fascism. Lucrative exclusive contracts were in the vogue back then, earning massive returns on capital but these returns came at cost of general system efficiency.

Re:About time (1)

xelah (176252) | more than 2 years ago | (#37753080)

There is nothing MORE capitalist then a exclusive monopoly. The entire concept of capitalism is that CAPITAL is in control. Therefore capital should buy all other capital to get even more power (aka exclusive monopoly).

Umm, no. The concept of capitalism is that the providers of capital control the organization to which the capital was provided. There's nothing inherent in capitalism to imply that providers of capital should control anything beyond that - and the more competitive the markets in which they operate the less power they have. I'm sure that owners of capital (which almost certainly includes you to a small extent) would like to have further political and economic influence, may try to acquire it and may actually have it - but that doesn't make it part of the 'concept of capitalism'.

failzo8s. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37750132)

From a t3chnicAl
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