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GP Week : Issue 137
F1 NEWS >> Webber not giving up on WDC dreams A ruling this week by the European Court of Justice could reduce the cost of sports satellite subscription services for European residents. The ECJ declared that football fans wishing to buy foreign decoder cards for their set-top boxes in an attempt to get the best possible price for their sports coverage were not in contravention of the law. According to the ECJ, any attempt to prevent the “import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards is contrary to the freedom to provide services and cannot be justified either in light of the objective of protecting intellectual property rights or by the objective of encouraging the public to attend football stadiums”. While the judgement was triggered by a dispute about Premier League football matches, the implications are more widespread and could impact everything from Formula One to imports of Hollywood movies. In addition to the ruling on pricing, the European court questioned territorial restrictions on broadcasts within the European Union. “Payment by the television stations of a premium in order to ensure themselves absolute territorial exclusivity goes beyond what is necessary to ensure the right holders appropriate remuneration,” the ECJ ruling read. “Such a practice may result in artificial price differences between the partitioned national markets. Such partitioning and such an artificial price difference are irreconcilable with the fundamental aim of the treaty, which is completion of the internal market.” It remains to be seen just what impact this ruling will have on Formula One, but there is little doubt that the sport’s television rights are sold at a premium to ensure territorial exclusivity, and that the customers are the same partitioned national markets referred to by the ECJ. EU ruling to impact European sports broadcasting For your daily dose of Formula 1 news ... 11