TS News - Court annuls exclusive EBU rights

TELE-satellit News, 15 July 1996

Court annuls exclusive EBU rights
  BRUSSELS, Belgium, 96/07/12 (Sat-ND) -- Sometime court rulings are
difficult to understand. Sometimes, they're easy to summarise. And
sometimes, both applies at the same time. The European Court yesterday
scrapped a decision made by the European Commission, allowing the European
Broadcasting Union (EBU) to buy exclusive television rights to sports events.

  Summary: Good for commercial stations and media companies, bad for the TV
audience. And this is what makes the judgement so hard to understand at the
same time. The exclusive rights for the 67 (mostly) public broadcasters of
the EBU so far guaranteed that everybody in Europe would be able to watch
major sports events without paying additional fees.

  The court, however, has annulled the Commission decision of 11 June 1993
which allowed the EBU to negotiate exclusive rights to transmit sports
events on grounds of a five-year exemption from the European Union's
competition rules.

  A spokesman for EU commissioner Karel Van Miert announced that "we are
going to analyse what the Court of First Instance said and we will see what
action we take or not." The EBU claimed that the EU commission did not do
their homework. The European court pointed out that the EU commission was
allowed to grant competition exemption decisions on considerations of public
interest. "However, in the present case it should have shown that such
considerations required exclusivity of rights to
transmit sports events."

  In a separate case, the European Court ruled that new commercial TV
stations must be given a fair chance to join the EBU. French TV channel TF1,
privatised in the mid 1980s, is still an active member, and even pay-TV
channel Canal Plus is. German commercial station RTL also was an EBU member
prior to the move from Luxembourg to Germany.

(c)TELE-satellit 1996. All rights reserved.

[Other mailing list archives]