Mark Daniels: The Premier League versus the advocate general

Related tags Premier league British sky broadcasting Europe

If I want to buy a new car, it's perfectly legal for me to go and purchase one in Europe. I can either drive over to the manufacturer and pick it up,...

If I want to buy a new car, it's perfectly legal for me to go and purchase one in Europe. I can either drive over to the manufacturer and pick it up, or any number of UK-based agents will arrange it for me, often saving thousands in the process.

So why can't I do that with my television services?

The view of advocate general Kokott last week is that I should be able to do just that, and a collective sigh of relief swept through the pub trade as she opined that foreign satellite broadcasts should not be restricted to an individual country under current EU law.

This is, however, just an opinion, and one that now needs to receive a judgement from the European Court of Justice before being referred to London's High Court. It is likely to be one or two years before any true ruling comes of this, so don't go getting your foreign satellite cards out just yet.

But Sky should be worried. Their stranglehold on the market place and unfair pricing levels have left many pubs unable to provide their customers with what is, ultimately, a nice-to-have service not a need-to-have, and after their draconian price hikes in summer last year many of us were forced to cancel the service in order to remain in business.

This was not the act of a company that was trying to grow its market place, but one that saw public houses as easy meat to pay for the development of its HD and 3D services whilst passing that technology on to the domestic market - and many of us simply could not afford to support it.

Let's not forget, too, that this whole pricing structure is based purely on the broadcasting of football matches, yet prevents us from showing other sporting events broadcast on Sky Sports without paying the price that Sky and the Premier League demand. Meanwhile, our counterparts in Europe pay a fraction of the price that we do in order to show their customers such events - including football matches played at 3pm on a Saturday.

The advocate general's views, then, might not be legally binding right now, but they carry an awful lot of weight and Sky and the Premier League would be right to sit up and take notice.

Broadcasting of football matches in public houses is worth ~£200m to BSKYB; many of us have already voted by cancelling our subscriptions. Many more will undoubtedly choose to switch on foreign decoders should a judgement be passed in our favour.

And remember - these days I can buy a car over the Internet, and watch telly over it as well...

Related topics Sport

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