ECJ says news broadcasters can use pay-TV sports clips

Ruffled European flagThe European Court of Justice (ECJ) has given a preliminary ruling that signals the continued practice of broadcasters being allowed to use clips from pay-TV football matches in their news programmes.

It follows a request from Sky Österreich and the public broadcaster ORF ahead of separate action in the Austrian courts.

Currently European Directive 2010/13 says that while high-profile events acquired exclusively should be made available to broadcasters for news bulletins, this need not extend to entertainment-based shows.

Austrian national law says that in the absence of an amicable agreement between the broadcasters concerned, the Bundeskommunikationssenat (federal communications board) need decide whether the right to make short news reports should be granted to a television broadcasting organisation and, where necessary, under what conditions.

Following the acquisition of Europa League rights by Sky Sport Austria in August 2009, the ORF and Sky entered into an agreement where Sky Austria would receive €700 per minute for reports on the matches.

In November 2009 and at the request of ORF regulator KommAustria said Sky was not entitled to demand payment greater than the cost of providing access to the satellite signal, a negligible amount.

But the Bundeskommunikationssenat contests Article 15 of Directive 2010/13 because it came into force after the exclusive contract came into place.

The ECJ said nothing had been raised that affected the validity of Article 15(6) of Directive 2010/13.