Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Free movement of televised football

I can think of few things short of violence and some types of music more likely to keep me out of a pub than a widescreen TV showing a football match. In fact any widescreen TV showing a sporting event that seems to involve abnormally short, fat men. Why is the image always distorted?

The Court of Justice has decided, agreeing with the Advocate General, that Karen Murphy is within her rights to show Premier League matches using a decoder obtained from Greece: the story is on the BBC News website and here is the judgment in Joined Cases C-403/08, C429/08 Football Association Premier League and Others, Murphy. The Court says that national legislation which prohibits the use of overseas decoders could not "be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums". So what is going to happen now? Sky can't carve up the European market and charge much more in the UK than in Greece, which frankly makes very little sense to me: the market for broadcasts of English football matches, even allowing for the fact that the Premier League is the most popular in the world and commands attention far, far from England, is not a single one within the EEA, and the broadcasts command a lower price in some countries than in others. (I wonder how much they cost in Scotland?) It is another instance of the Court, and European Union law, imposing on the EEA a rule that only makes sense if the EEA is something that it is not and probably never will be. The same lack of logic applies to old parallel import cases: I am reminded of the Silhouette case, with the suggestion that designer sunglasses should be sold at the same price in pre-accession Bulgaria and in affluent Austria. How many Bulgarians were going to buy at Austrian prices? And what are the chances of prices being reduced to Bulgarian levels in other countries?
Profit maximisation demands that different prices be charged in different markets, and pretending that there are no different markets makes a nonsense of that. I don't imagine that Sky is going to be reducing its prices to English pubs (doesn't seem the Murdoch way), so the effect of this undoubtedly soundly Communitaire judgment will be to deprive Greeks of Premier League football.
Actually, now I think of it ... I'm not sure they need much sympathy.

No comments:


blogger templates | Make Money Online