Ban on foreign football satellite feeds is illegal, says European Court adviser
Published 11:27 03/02/11 By MirrorFootball
UK broadcasters cannot prevent viewers using foreign satellite feeds to watch Premier League football matches, an adviser to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said.
In a move that could have major ramifications for the Premier League, Sky Sports and ESPN, ECJ advocate general Juliane Kokott has said a such a block is against European law.
Currently Premier League football is shown live in other countries on a Saturday afternoon, but that is banned in the UK to protect attendance figures.
To get around this, some viewers - especially pubs - use foreign feeds to screen matches.
But the authorities could soon be powerless to stop them if the European Court of Justice follows advice from Ms Kokott.
They are expected to make a ruling in the next few months, and typically follow the advice of the advocate general in the majority of cases.
Ms Kokott said: "The exclusivity agreement relating to transmission of football matches are contrary to European Union law.
"(The) exclusivity rights in question have the effect of partitioning the internal market into quite separate national markets, something which constitutes a serious impairment of the freedom to provide services."
The case is based on a dispute over whether a rights holder - such as the Premier League - can sell rights to football on a country-by-country basis.
The Premier League currently generates huge revenues by doing just that.