Over the last few years, certainly in the north east, it has become the norm for thousands and thousands of people to watch Newcastle United matches in pubs via ‘foreign satellite feeds’, or ‘dodgy satellite’ where I come from.
At first you had a small number of pubs/clubs taking the chance on various feeds, with the result that you often never knew until kick-off whether you would be seeing the match. This often resulted in comical scenes as hundreds of United fans could be seen marauding teh streets looking for somewhere that had it that day and/or on their mobiles finding out from friends if it was showing where they were.
In recent times it appears things have evolved to the point where pretty much every single match is available to view where the landlord has taken the step of installing the ‘dodgy satellite’. If where I live is any guide, in many areas pretty much every pub/club have every NUFC match on, the economics of the situation making it crazy not to have it. A packed pub or tumbleweed blowing through your bar, not a hard choice.
Whether having every match live in pubs is good for football is a hard call to make. Niall Quinn made his feelings known about fans staying away to watch in pubs for nothing and despite a massive revival on the pitch since O’Neill’s arrival there is still ten thousand or more empty seats every match.
Following the Portsmouth pub landlady Karen Murphy’s case, The ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruled that fans at home could buy foreign set-top box decoder cards from foreign broadcasters, but that the Premier League could go after pubs and clubs on the grounds of copyright infringement.
The UK’s high court of justice will make a final decision on how to apply the ECJ ruling to the Murphy case on 24 February.
However, the Premier League and BSkyB consider a second ruling to be much more material to the battle against unauthorised broadcasts.
On 3 February the UK court delivered its judgment on an ECJ ruling relating to a company called QC Leisure, a provider of Greek and Arabic decoder cards to publicans in the UK.
The ad being run by the Premier League warns publicans that this ruling has clarified its right to pursue unauthorised broadcasters.
“It is clear that the law gives us the right to prevent the unauthorised use of our copyrights in pubs and clubs when they are communicated to the public without our authority,” says text in the ad. “We will now resume actions against publicans.”
The knock-on effect of the UK court ruling earlier this month is that another major supplier of foreign set-top boxes and cards, Euroview, has in the last few days shut down its current business operation.
A statement on its website informs customers that it is cancelling contracts from the 10 February.
“To fully protect the business of its customers Euroview Sport is now investing in making changes to its service which will ensure that it offers a risk-free solution which does not infringe the rights of the FAPL or any other third party,” the company said. “Until these changes are fully effected Euroview has made the decision to temporarily suspend its services.”