Judge refers pub football rights case to ECJ

footballPublicans have won a key judgment that may allow them to bypass costly UK broadcast licenses to show Premier League matches. The case has now been referred to the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The legal case began when the Football Association Premier League (FAPL) sued a group of publicans and a number of importers and suppliers of non-UK satellite recording equipment for using satellite decoder cards obtained in other countries. 

The decoder cards allowed the publicans to access satellite broadcasts of Premier League matches shown by foreign broadcasters and meant that they were able to avoid the more costly licenses fees imposed by the official UK supplier, BSkyB. 

FAPL argues that it has only licensed foreign broadcasters to show Premier League matches in their own territories. The defendants argue that, under European single market rules, the FAPL is not entitled to stop the decoder cards being imported to the UK. 

In the High Court yesterday (Tuesday), Mr Justice Kitchin agreed to the defendants’ request to refer the case to the ECJ. The judge has indicated that he agrees with the points of law argued by the defendants. A win for the defendents could led to a significant loss of revenue for Sky.

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