Thursday 6 November 2014

Footie and a beer on a Saturday afternoon: soon to be a forgotten pleasure?

With some names changed or concealed to avoid any problems, here's a little tale that has been sent to us for publication:
I was encouraged to get in touch with you by my boss who is an avid reader of your blog. I work for him at the Black Bull Pub in Green Pasture, Bullhampton, England. A smaller part of our business revolves around showing English Premier League football games, and last year we took the step into the big grey area of broadcasting 3 pm Saturday games, which you may know are not shown on British TV due to a ruling some years ago to keep attendance up at football grounds.

We were put in touch with a company (by a fellow landlord already using their service) that provided foreign satellites for the showing of 3pm football games coming in from around Europe. You may remember this case from 2012 in which a landlady won her court case against Sky for using a decoder [on the Karen Murphy case and its aftermath see the 1709 Blog here; see also the BBC here]. This pub was supported in its legal battle by the company which provided our satellites.

The key piece of information from the BBC article states that: 'the Premier League said it still had the right "to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights"'.

Will this soon be the only sort of football
you can enjoy in an English pub?
From the beginning on this season our provider has disappeared, along with the money we paid for this season. I've been in touch with friends of mine who run a website for pubs to advertise what sports they're showing and they've confirmed that the showing of Premier League 3 pm games has dropped dramatically this season from last. We were also attempting to run a photographic exhibition with a sport photographer friend of ours this season all about the Premier League, but after the Premier League set their agenda for the season (which I believe focused heavily on their copyright) the photographer decided it wouldn't be worth getting involved with the exhibition as he would run the risk of unnecessary complications concerning the copyright of his images.

There are clearly lots of pubs that have now been left in a precarious position. Our businesses began to revolve around a good Saturday trade and it's difficult to assimilate back into a business without that trade. Our landlord friend who suggested the company to us is in real trouble as his is a local pub, and prior to his showing of 3 pm games his business was struggling. His entire trade is based around Saturdays.
From the Premier League's perspective, its priorities involve the protection and exploitation of its copyrights; from the point of view of local pubs and the communities they serve, while the profit motive cannot be eliminated it is only one of a number of factors to take into account, as both pub-going and football-watching practices are subject to stresses from which they may never quite recover.

Readers' thoughts and observations are welcomed.


andy said...

I would be interested to know if there are any pubs in the uk using eu services which are authorised for commercial use by pubs (rather than home use). Because surely that would be ok?

Anonymous said...

So this is the thing Andy, I know a few places that were using these for commercial use boxes and technically they weren't illegal. What apparently was illegal however, at least according the the Premier League, was showing their logo and any other copyrighted information with the Euro feed.

Some of the companies started to sell decoders that would remove the copyright material, but they were still shut down and I'm not sure why.

Ben said...

I think what the two much referred to cases cases (C-403/08 Football Association Premier League Ltd and Others v QC Leisure and Others and C-429/08 Karen Murphy v Media Protection Services Ltd) established was that publican Ms Murphy, as a citzen of Europe, was entitled to have a Greek Nova box in her home and could herself quite happily and legally watch live Premiership football. What she couldn't do was use that same box to feed a signal into her pub. However the (criminal) conviction under s297(1) CDPA against her were quite rightly dismissed in the High Court. Anecdotally I have to say that it does appear less and less pubs are using European live feeds in their pubs - I know at least two pubs where I live in North London who have recently stopped using foriegn feeds - both swapping to Sky and BT which they pay for - because of course it brings in punters. Of course those services are without the Saturday afternoon live game although of course they do have the early and Saturday late kick off and Sundays too. Whether Sky have upped their enforcement regime would have to be answered by someone else - but whatever it is it seems to be working. That said ... in January I blogged here that the FAPL had launched over 100 actions against pubs using foriegn decoders, at that jucnture ficussing on South Wales.

As interesting is the news that Ofcom has opened an investigation into how the Premier League sells live TV media rights for it's football matches in the UK. It follows a complaint from Virgin Media, which was submitted to Ofcom in September. Ofcom said it was "mindful of the likely timing of the next auction of live UK audio-visual media rights, and is open to discussion with the Premier League about its plans". The BBC says Ofcom will also look at the issue of how many games are moved from their traditional 3pm kick-off times on Saturdays, because of TV scheduling needs - and talk to fans.

Ben said...

The person who posed this question might be interested to know that four pubs have been ordered by the High Court to pay a total of £30,000 in costs to the Premier League over a breach of copyright. They are in Stoke, Durham, Rochester and Swindon. It follows a ruling earlier this month that Manchester pub The Red Beret should pay £8,000 costs to the Premier League for the unauthorized breach of Premier League copyright.

a FAPL spokesperson said "“Our messages to publicans are clear: ignore the lies peddled by suppliers who make false claims about the legality of foreign broadcasts. And broadcast Premier League football in your pubs the right way – via Sky Sports and BT Sport commercial agreements”

More here