What does competition law have to do with sports broadcasting?
Competition law and broadcasting issues have continued to offer interesting insights into the dynamics of the UK broadcasting market. This has manifested in various disputes between the UK’s most well-known television and satellite providers.
BSkyB (Sky) seem to be at the very heart of the debate, especially in the realms of sports and movies. Various challengers including BT, Virgin and Top Up TV have questioned the satellite broadcaster’s behaviour in a number of broadcasting markets. Of significant interest some time ago was the pub decoder case, where publican Karen Murphy was prosecuted after purchasing a Greek decoder and decoder card in order to broadcast live Premier League (PL) matches in her pub. The not so well known outcome, after EU court intervention, was that the English court concluded that the PL owned copyrighted works such as the anthem and the logo which were embedded in the broadcast. As such Murphy needed authorisation to broadcast the copyrighted material which was something the PL were unlikely to provide.
Similarly, Sky was successful in overturning an Ofcom decision requiring Sky to sell its Sky Sports 1 and 2 channels to its competitors at a regulated price. Its main concerns were that Sky (as a wholesaler and retailer of PL football through its Sky Sports channels) could have had an interest in limiting the distribution of premium content, and that it could set its prices at a level as to make selling its Sky Sports channels uneconomical for its competitors like Virgin and BT.
As of this week, BT Sport who is the new entrant in the sports broadcasting market has made a complaint to Ofcom who has launched an investigation into whether Sky is abusing its dominant position by withholding Sky Sports channels from BT’s rival You View internet-connected TV service. This comes in the same week that Ofcom rejected a complaint by BT in relation to Sky refusing to carry advertising of BT Sport on its own Sky Sports channels.
At a time when purchasing live sport can cost several billion pounds, complainants and claimants alike will continue to use competition law to advance their cases in an effort to access to premium content.
Third Party Investment Update: Players Can Own their Transfer Rights
By Daniel Geey and Alex Harvey Introduction It was a pleasure to talk alongside Nick De Marco recently at the RFEF FIFA Legal Congress in Madrid. We discussed the current state of play regarding Third Party Investment (TPI), particularly bearing in mind the recent TPI amendment to the FIFA Regulations on the Status and Transfer […]
Football Broadcasting Deals Across the Top 5 European Leagues
By Daniel Geey and Alex Harvey The excellent Swiss Ramble wrote a fascinating twitter thread comparing broadcasting revenues in the 2018/19 season across the top leagues in England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain. I would highly recommend reading the thread in detail. As with a previous thread that the Swiss Ramble wrote on EPL broadcasting […]
How did Dybala’s image rights affect his proposed transfer to Tottenham?
This piece was first published by the excellent Goal.com here Getting a deal over the line can be complicated at the best of times but complications over marketing opportunities can make things even worse It has been reported over the last few days that Paulo Dybala’s transfer to Tottenham hit choppy waters and ultimately collapsed […]
An Insider's Guide to Football Contracts, Multi-Million Pound Transfers and Premier League Big Business Insightful, enlightening and thought-provoking, leading Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey lifts the lid on the inner workings of modern football.
Whether it is a manager being sacked, the signing of a new star player, television rights negotiations, player misconduct or multi-million-pound club takeovers, lawyers remain at the heart of all football business dealings. Written by leading Premier League lawyer Daniel Geey, who has dealt with all these incidents first hand, this highly accessible book explores the issues – from pitch to boardroom – that shape the modern game and how these impact leagues, clubs, players and fans.Buy Book