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ECJ advised that exclusivity of FA premire league TV rights partitions the internal market.

Written by Michael Coyle on 03 February 2011

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Whether EU law prohibits publicans providing there customers with live Premier League football sourced from foreign broadcasters is to be decided by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Karen Murphy, the pub land lady of the Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth uses a Greek decoder to access and show the Premier League football rather than relying on BSkyB who charge commercial rates in the UK.

The FA Premier League, who provides the TV rights, is trying to prevent UK pubs showing live football from foreign broadcasters. These foreign broadcasters have paid in full for their decoder cards but at a rate much less than UK rates.

Juliane Kokott, one of the advocate generals of the ECJ, who advises the ECJ, was of the opinion that "exclusivity of the rights in question has the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of freedom to provide services".

Kokott went on to say that "the idea of selling on a territorial exclusivity basis was tantamount to profiting from the elimination of the internal market".

It is estimates that BSkyB makes about £200m a year from pub and other commercial subscriptions in the UK of which only £60 to £70 million would be at risk if publicans were allowed purchase cheaper foreign Premier League coverage.

The ECJ will make its decision in the coming months.

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