Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Broader Implications of the ECJ Decision on TV Rights

The FT opines on yesterday's decision by the European Court of Justice on television broadcasts of Premier League games:
The decision by the European Court of Justice that the League cannot grant exclusive licences to broadcasters if that means banning the import or supply of foreign decoders mean that Europe’s fans now have the right to shop around for a cheap foreign decoder, to circumvent high-priced pay TV subscriptions at home. Some believe the ruling may also strike a blow against the grip of mighty broadcasters, such as BSkyB, on the beautiful game. That may be welcome. But the more important point is that the ECJ has reaffirmed the fundamental principle of free movement of goods and services. The court has clearly declared that protection of intellectual property is not sufficient justification to impede the internal market ...
Informed observers are still working through the implications of this legal decision. But it seems clear that one consequence will be a move away from country-specific television contracts toward EU-wide contracts. EU-wide contracts open the door to domestic league partnerships, in order to better capture the uneven value of broadcasts, consider:
Of the £3.4bn revenues [the Premeir League] agreed for their 2010-13 TV rights, £2bn came from the UK and about £350m from continental Europe.
Presumably a similar ratio exists from other national settings.

If so, then league partnerships could open the door to revenue sharing via jointly packaged television contracts. League revenue-sharing partnerships might be another step toward some form of integration of European football.

So while UEFA is probably dealing with the consequences of the ruling for its own rights to Champions League matches, now negotiated on a country-by-country basis, UEFA is probably also thinking about the implications for European football more broadly. The economic integration of European football can only be welcomed by UEFA, as it enhances its role at the expense of its member associations.


Post a Comment