A Portsmouth landlady could have set off a chain of events with the potential to erode the current boundaries of pay-TV. Channelle’s clients are getting worried.While the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice Juliane Kokot’s opinion that pay-TV operators should not be restricted to a single territory could result in the complete overhaul of the Premier League policies used to allot lucrative TV sports rights across Europe, ALL broadcasters must now consider the longer term consequences of restricting the sale and viewing rights of any content to one territory becoming “contrary to European Union law”.
If the EUCJ does uphold her opinion, in the case sparked by Portsmouth publican Karen Murphy, the implications are huge. Any venue could use any alternative, cheaper service to show sports events and if a pub can choose where to get its sport, why can’t any home do the same with other “exclusive” content?
From a viewer’s perspective, there will be no bleeding hearts if Sky and ESPN are forced to become more competitive by reducing prices. However, if broadcasters and media rights owners cannot legally stop customers using cheaper services to watch content and now have to take into account the possibility of EU freedom of trade Laws, then the whole future of TV looks unclear. I imagine the CFO’s at football clubs will be a little nervous too!
A decision against the Premier League will inevitably lead to a radical shake-up in the way the broadcasting industry works, and it doesn’t stop there – logically there will also be immense implications for how we can consume other media such as books, film and of course music.
We’ve already seen how the threat of online piracy has resulted in the big US shows being seen in Europe just days after their transmission on the other side of the Atlantic.
In advance of the formal EU ruling, expected later this year, all my clients are now re-visiting their plans to sell their media rights on an exclusive basis by individual European territory, charging different rights fees according to the size of the individual market. For the “Music Moguls” who are experiencing a distinct sense of déjà-vu this is an especially big deal as one of the directors puts it “It’s like the TV world just caught up with the music industry – let’s hope the outcome’s better this time around …”