UEFA and Sky make case to intervene in foreign satellite battle

Related tags Foreign satellite Foreign satellite football European court of justice European union Uefa

Representatives from UEFA and four media giants stood side by side in the High Court today to push for the chance to have their say in the European...

Representatives from UEFA and four media giants stood side by side in the High Court today to push for the chance to have their say in the European test case on foreign satellite football.

The football governing body, Setanta, BSkyB, Canal + and the Motion Picture Association have applied for a late intervention into the landmark case, between the Premier League and QC Leisure, in a bid to defend their commercial interests.

The case against QC Leisure will be heard in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in conjunction with Portsmouth licensee Karen Murphy's appeal against a conviction for screening foreign satellite football in her pub.

Mark Brealey QC, speaking on behalf of UEFA, warned that if excluded from the test case, expected to be heard next summer, the body could launch a separate case to challenge the final verdict.

He said: "The Premier League is interested in the Premier League. It can present a similar solution but it has no interest in the Champions League.

"If refused this intervention UEFA could bring a similar claim of its own. All that UEFA is doing [by launching the intervention] is by-passing the need to bring a separate claim raising similar issues, wasting the courts time and burdening the defendants."

He added that if the intervention is rejected and the ECJ finds in favour of the use of de-coding cards the effect on UEFA's commercial interests would be "direct and substantial".

James Flynn QC, defending his client BSkyB's rights to be present at the hearing, said: "It is evident that Sky will be affected by the interpretation to be given at the Court of Justice. We are the most directly affected as de-coding cards are supplied as a way to avoid paying subscriptions to Sky."

Setanta's submission focused on the need to retain exclusivity for broadcasters like itself, which have recently broken into the market.

Mark Hoskins QC, representing Setanta, said: "Setanta made a substantial investment to break into this market. For new entrants to the market exclusivity is fundamental. We have an interest in helping new entrants to enter the market and compete."

The five organisations said they would agree to restrict oral submissions at the European Court of Justice to 15 minutes, if their intervention was allowed, to ensure proceedings were not unduly prolonged.

Lawyers representing the suppliers and Murphy are expected to argue that using foreign satellite de-coder cards is legal under the EU's competition and Free Movement of Goods laws.

A decision on whether the organisations will be allowed to have their say is not expected today.

Related topics Legislation

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