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Bursting the Bubble

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Does anyone know more about this article?

This Portsmouth landlady is taking her case to the European Court of Justice to allow her to show PL games from a Greek provider for £100 per month, instead of the £1000 many pubs are charged. If the case goes her way, it will mean access to PL games regardless of time of fixture for a fraction of costs dictated by the PL itself for any territory in Europe.

This opens up many questions and possibilities to football and clubs individually. Could be the bubble will burst sooner than we think, and football may possibly come back to the people as technology available to us all outgrows the restrictions of copyright law rendering said territories and the purpose of the laws redundant.

Also the BBC has this only in their business section (now mysteriously taken off their ?what people are reading now? section), and the story is conspicuous by its absence in the national (Murdoch) press.
Nick Entwistle, London     Posted 04/10/2010 at 23:12:31

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Derek Thomas
1   Posted 05/10/2010 at 08:09:07

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Bring it on I say. What with all the rules they have in the EU to make sure what applies in the outer Hebredies applies in S Greece, you can even get your dole their, no discrimination, we are all one under the EU ( like it or not )

But and there is always a but money always talks and rule one will apply.

Remember the Golden Rule.

Them that has the gold make the rules.
Steve Cotton
2   Posted 05/10/2010 at 08:24:20

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Not sure if these Premier League inspectors ever come to Liverpool to check pubs illegally showing games? But if they did, they would find approx 75% of pubs all showing live matches on the 'foreign' every Saturday and Sunday.

The only problem for me is that as we are not deemed a big club anymore, then it is often hard to find a pub with our game on. Sadly the RS seem to be on every other foreign channel for every match..

So I think Sky get by without these revenue streams as it is..
Helikaon Bow
3   Posted 05/10/2010 at 09:01:02

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Socialism at its best boys...sounds like you're delighted.
Jeremy Buckley
4   Posted 05/10/2010 at 09:14:46

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I live on the wrong side of London and it costs me around £50 in petrol or more on the train plus £30 a match, not to mention an entire Saturday or Sunday on the road.

If I could pay the club £10 a game to watch it on the telly live I'd be happy!
Matt Traynor
5   Posted 05/10/2010 at 09:41:52

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This is an interesting one, though I think I know how it will end.

Remember - Competition is good for the consumer.

Basically the EPL and FIFA follow the same commercial model when selling international broadcast rights. In a lot of countries, you don't have competition in the media. So when they bid for the rights, they may only be bidding against alternative media (e.g. an Internet provider may bid against a TV company).

They use "short form contracts" which basically have a lot of standard T's and C's, but are not fixed in the value of the service.

So when the recent overseas TV deal was signed at an increase over the previous deal, all the different territories were negotiated individually by the EPL's commercial reps. The same model (and probably the same reps) applied to the WC just gone.

This leads to the perverse situation where in somewhere like China (population 1.3bn?) the value of the EPL contract is peanuts - people refuse to pay, and the state media (no competition company) sold on it's short form contract to an Internet Broadcaster, when the public refused to pay a small subscription. The Internet company puts it out free, paid for with ads (like some of the other channels people here use).

Then here in Singapore (population 5.5m-ish) you have 2 competing cable providers (1 mainly government owned), plus a government owned free-to-air channel. Because they compete for EPL rights as they sell advertising and sponsorship off the back of it, they pay a much higher price. By going to extremes to out-bid each other, the price is much higher, and has to be passed on to the consumer - individual or bar. As a result both companies paid through the nose for the WC, and did it as a premium add-on, which was a commercial disaster.

So, competition works...?

In this case, I think the claim by the landlady will fall foul of international agreements on broadcasting - namely that a countries satellite territory is clearly defined in the broadcasting license. Whilst it is possible to get overseas channels (here we can subscribe to Aussie, Chinese, Indonesian etc.), I would be amazed if the short-form contracts forbade broadcasting outside the assigned territory. Afterall, if you've paid through the nose for exclusive broadcasting in a territory, you would have a big beef with EPL (and FIFA) if this was to happen...

That's my layman understanding of it.
Eugene Ruane
6   Posted 05/10/2010 at 10:09:35

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It's an interesting piece.

On one hand it seems a very complicated issue, on the other, very simple and I liked her response to her potentially 'damaging the game'.

"I'm not damaging football. Football is damaging itself by dictating when matches are shown. Supporters don't want a match on a Tuesday night - which suits the broadcaster - they want a match on a Saturday afternoon. The whole thing has got way out of control. It's pure greed."

Hard to argue with, especially if you're not one of the big three (I've said a few times - I'd love to see it all - Sky/The PL etc - implode)

I hope she wins but expect her to lose, simply because of the money that certain organizations could lose.

It reminds me a little of the European 'law' on posting ciggies.

If I want my hypothetical uncle to send me 20 cartons of Bensons from Wolverhampton, no problem.

But Portugal, at £4 a pack less?

No fucking chance.

I can't remember how Europe stopped this but they did, even though we're supposed to be one market.

(I think this might be being fought too, but feel it will take more than 5 years).

Anyway, good luck to her.
Nick Entwistle
7   Posted 05/10/2010 at 10:24:09

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Thanks Matt, that does simplify things at least from the PL perspective.

But when I mentioned technology making redundant the concept of territories and laws it goes back to the Tresspass Laws of the US which were changed in 1945. A land owner (stay with me here) had the right to his land to an indeterminate depth below and an indeterminate hight above, but the advent of planes made that impossible to continue.

In the same way the mass public now are being sold editing packages as standard on computers and access to footage via YouTube etc this has made copyright law uninforcable when dealing with the personal user. We now have the ability, like the landlady has, to grab a card from a Greek supplier, so even if she may not be able to show in public, it wont take a bright spark to set up a supply of perfectly legal Greek sattelite cards to the UK individual.

Kevin Gillen
8   Posted 05/10/2010 at 10:42:41

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Try buying clothes from the USA online in England or getting decent bacon in the USA. Its the same problem. Vince Cable said the other week there is an illusion of the market or of competition, most markets are rigged. It was almost as if he wasn't allowed to say that, as if it contravened some article of faith of belief in unfettered free market capitalism. Here is a cast iron example if ever you wanted one. The cost of Sky is becoming prohibitive, I hope this woman succeeds. Great post by the way.
Alan Clarke
9   Posted 05/10/2010 at 10:53:24

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There is no way the ECJ will rule in this woman's favour because the broadcasting rights are for Greece. All this woman will do is close a loophole that a lot of landlords in this country currently exploit. You can wave goodbye to watching Saturday 3pm kick-offs now in your local pub.
Bill Slater
10   Posted 05/10/2010 at 10:58:31

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Great post and I reckon footy fans should be sending cheques for a fiver to her pub as a measure of support. She is the only one who has had the bottle to put her head above the paraphet and question all this Sky crap.

Consumers will win in the end, especially with all this publicity. Just Google NOVA satellite card and visit to buy one for the house today and cancel your Sky Sports subscription. What the hell are they going to do about it on a mass scale?

Diluted PL revenues = much reduced players wages = cheaper to go to the match = more people will attend on a Saturday, you know the day we can actaully get off work! And I like the comment about "football is damaging itself" - absolute quality and absolutely correct.

Well done Karen.
Gerry Quinn
11   Posted 05/10/2010 at 12:26:12

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Anyone got a link?
Martyn Lewis
12   Posted 05/10/2010 at 12:37:12

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Nice one Gerry - I keep seeing Optical Express !!!
Mark Stone
13   Posted 05/10/2010 at 12:38:45

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It won't work because the 'open market' in the EU relates to value... ie, the 'value' of buying a car in this country is £12000 - that same car has the same value in, for instance Greece, because it does the same job and me and Georgios want it for the same purpose.

TV broadcasting is viewed as a special case because the value differs country to country... The Premier League is more 'valuable' in the UK than it is in Greece because we're the ones who support the teams and therefore we are the one's who really want to watch it. That is what the 'expert' lawyer on Radio 2 said about it, anyway.

Gerry Quinn
14   Posted 05/10/2010 at 12:46:47

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Nick - found one here....
Nelaj Behajiha
15   Posted 05/10/2010 at 12:55:04

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It's a bit ridiculous this you can watch all the games in the pubs anyway. Sky are a horrible bunch of wankers and erserve to be put in their place. Fucking idiotic pundits like Rednapp, Gray, Big Nose, Nicholas, piss me off no end. Le Tissier and merson are quite good but Sky in general have fucked up Football no end.
Gerry Quinn
16   Posted 05/10/2010 at 13:00:21

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Am I reading this right - it's the EPL that are doing all the jumping up and down and crying "foul"? Or is it Sky?
Ian Kearney
17   Posted 05/10/2010 at 13:04:02

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As soon as the real leader of the Tory party completes his strangle hold on British sport he will start to squeeze the EPL anyway, as he'll no longer need to offer the big bucks, it would be great news after the scumbag took sky sports news off freeview, he's had his coming.
Alex Kociuba
18   Posted 05/10/2010 at 13:03:00

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Free and open markets for corporations and governments, but not for the individuals or small business.

Research: The Bilderberg Group
Nick Entwistle
19   Posted 05/10/2010 at 15:20:14

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No one is doing any jumping up and down Gerry, that's the thing.

BBC lost its international rights when Hansen and co were overly critical and don't won't want to be saying anything... in fact, try and find the story on BBC without the link above, you wont.

Sky of course have a lot invested so no mention on their news site or in the Murdoch papers.

I'd imagine the BBC have the little they do have to be above suspicion, and does seem the radio seem to be doing more than other departments as its seperate.
Matt Traynor
20   Posted 05/10/2010 at 15:29:10

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Gerry (#14) the action would be taken by the EPL as the commercial rights holder. A lawyer (for sky) would argue that they paid a premium which is being undervalued and is in breach of their rights to maximise their revenue, and Sky's beef would be with the EPL, not Bet Lynch.

The clubs would have a beef also as their TV deal states that non-televised games on a Saturday at 3pm (remember them?) will not "compete" with live TV so as to undermine their gate revenue. Other countries implicitly don't have that problem.

Many people have predicted the downfall of football's finance "structure". The foundations of that are rooted in the EPL commercial deals with Sky (the major component) and rest of world.
Ray Roche
21   Posted 05/10/2010 at 16:58:33

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I saw the landlady being interviewed on TV. Her argument is that she has freedom of choice and chose a different supplier to Sky, paid VAT and tax on her purchase and did nothing illegal. Let's hope she's right.
Danny Burke
22   Posted 05/10/2010 at 18:01:08

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My al fellas pub doesnt even bother with the pub sky contract. It's got a normal terestial contract and a tipex pint glass in the corner of the screen.
Jimmy Hacking
23   Posted 05/10/2010 at 19:19:54

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There are a myriad issues that apply here, several of you have already hit on them but its actually several times more complicated than you probably imagine. Broadcasting rights for any medium (sports, films, News, whatever) are ridiculously complex, I have always worked in the media industry and even I am frequently baffled by the insane logic.

Even if this woman wins, there are so many complexities due to unions, government and institutions (such as the FA) and the like that the lawyers will very very quickly close that particular loophole.

Do admire her, though.
Philip Jones
24   Posted 05/10/2010 at 21:55:20

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Any French blue noses on here? Anyway I seem to remember a football programme possibly on channel 4 years ago which featured French football and it seemed over there you can choose which match you want to watch sort of like box office. Would it not make sense to have the same sort of platform in this country? Would this not stop these type of court cases?
Jamie Crowley
25   Posted 05/10/2010 at 22:51:54

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Comparing Euro laws and regulations with those in the United States is like comparing an apple and a banana... but as a general, over-all approach it befuddles me why the EPL hasn't followed the NFL model.

Here in the States we have the NFL Sunday Ticket - to which I subscribe. I can watch every single out of market game for around $150 a year. The NFL uses Directv for their distributor.

Why doesn't the EPL offer those in the UK a pay-for option to subscribe to a service which televises all EPL games? It works fantastically here in the States and has propelled the NFL to huge profits, nevermind the exposure. Pubs (Bars) subscribe at a much higher rate, but are more than happy to pay the fee as not one soul will be in their bar if they don't televise the games. Teams (Clubs in the UK model) have their gates protected by blackouts. If the local club does not sell out their game it not televised in their local market - incentive for the locals to still attend at the park / grounds.

The NFL makes millions with this arrangement and I've never frankly understood why the UK and particularly the EPL hasn't adopted this model.

I can view almost every single EPL game every week on my TV. If I lived in the UK it would just kill me to not be able to view the game if it wasn't one of the chosen ones on Sky. Hell, here the networks still compete viciously for the rights despite the Sunday ticket b/c it's their feed of the game in question popped out over the Sunday Ticket into out of market localities, hence their advertisers get the air time. I think CBS and FOX paid into the billions for the NFL broadcasting rights.

The UK model seems unbelievably archaic - no offense intended whatsoever. I would imagine SKY could offer a same pay-for style that Directv does - why do they not do it? This is above my head clearly, but we do it here...and everyone up and down the food chain benefits.

A guy in Florida can watch every Green Bay Packers game he wants. A guy in London can only see Everton if it's televised, the game of choice per se? I hurt for you people - it's gotta be agony - or do I have this all wrong?
Tommy Gibbons
26   Posted 05/10/2010 at 23:43:44

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Hope she wins, bollocks to Sky, I will never subscribe to Sky for anything!.. Btw, Jimmy #23. WTF does it have to do with Unions!!
Craig Harrison
27   Posted 06/10/2010 at 00:01:44

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It wouldnt work simply because of Geography. In most cases NFL teams are spread across large areas (states) and its easy to set geograsphical boundaries that make sense. In the UK most teams in the EPL are seperated by 100-200 miles.
Jamie Crowley
28   Posted 06/10/2010 at 00:30:42

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That does make sense Craig - but why not just offer a package where all games are available - regardless of geography, and a blackout only occurs if the home team doesn't achieve say 75% capacity?

Like I said, it's an apple and a banana. And your point of geography is well taken. All too often us Yanks forget that entire countries can have 100 football clubs in them, and be the size of Vermont.

In case you haven't heard, we're a very self-absorbed bunch over here.

I still think there'd have to be a way to implement a similar system to the benefit of the economic system and the fans.

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