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FIFA and UEFA "have lost an appeal against a European ruling that the World Cup and Euro Championships should be shown on free-to-air TV" in the U.K., according to Bill Wilson of the BBC. In '11, the European General Court said that the U.K. "could keep the events on a list of 'protected' events of national sporting interest broadcast for free." It means the two tournaments "cannot be sold exclusively to pay-TV firms." FIFA and UEFA "had appealed" after saying that they could not sell the events fairly for their real value. But the European Court of Justice -- Europe's Supreme Court -- has now said the original decision in the General Court in '11 "was correct" (BBC, 7/18). BLOOMBERG's Stephanie Bodoni reported a ruling in FIFA's favor "could have ended decades of tradition in the U.K., where the World Cup, the most-watched sporting event, must be shown on free television channels" including the BBC. UEFA said Thursday's decision "not only distorts competition in a free market, but also reduces the possibility to generate income that can then be distributed to the amateur game via solidarity payments" (BLOOMBERG, 7/18).
NOT CREATED EQUAL: The Scotland DAILY RECORD reported UEFA and FIFA argued that "not all the games in the tournaments 'could constitute events of major importance for the general public' and claimed only the final matches of the competitions should be Listed Events." Belgium "also has a similar law regarding World Cup matches, and that was also challenged by FIFA" (DAILY RECORD, 7/18). REUTERS' Keith Weir reported in Britain, the restrictions mean all World Cup and Euro games "have to be shown on either the BBC or ITV." In Belgium, "the rules apply only to the World Cup" and public broadcasters VRT (Dutch) and RTBF (French) have the rights (REUTERS, 7/18).
Britain Culture Secretary Maria Miller "has attacked the BBC over its sexist Wimbledon coverage," and said that she will "boycott the Open golf championship because it is being held at the Muirfield club, which refuses to admit women members," according to Mark Sweney of the London GUARDIAN. Miller "has written a scathing letter" to BBC Dir General Tony Hall demanding to know whether "any further action is likely to be taken" over Wimbledon commentator John Inverdale's sexist comments. Miller, who is also minister for women and equalities, said that she is "particularly concerned about the BBC incident as she has identified increased coverage of women's sport as a top priority." She said that the BBC "had not gone far enough with Inverdale's apologies, both on-air and in a letter to Bartoli, and that she wanted to see more action" (GUARDIAN, 7/18). The London GUARDIAN published a letter Hall wrote in reply to Miller. In it, Hall wrote, "The BBC has a proud record of supporting women's sport, as I am sure you will have recognised from the current coverage of Euro 2013. We are building on the fantastic success of the Olympics, with a team including many women broadcasters, through extensive day-in-day-out coverage across our TV, radio and online services." Hall added, "I can also tell you, following our Respect at Work review, that we are taking another look at the BBC's equality and diversity policies, which apply to all our staff. Whilst the review found no evidence of sexual harassment in the BBC now, one outcome has been for us to be much clearer when we communicate to those who work for us what constitutes inappropriate behaviour or language and to reaffirm the BBC's values around respect" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).
TIMING IS EVERYTHING: In London, Jane Martinson wrote on the GUARDIAN's The Women's Blog "the cynical among you may point out that this intervention is a bit late (the comments were made two weeks ago), were published on the front page of the Daily Mail, a paper with its own interesting view of women, and comes from a government not known for its firm stance on equality issues, but none of these entirely obscures the central point." Miller attacking the BBC "may not be a story," but Miller attacking "the broadcaster for its sexist sports coverage is a very good story indeed." Coming just a few days after Miller criticized the fact that the Open Championship is held at a club that refuses to allow women to become members, her letter "suggests that she may be getting serious about the Olympic legacy that was supposed to increase participation in sport." Nowhere "is this increased participation needed more than among women and girls" (GUARDIAN, 7/18).
UEFA Champions League sponsor Heineken on Wednesday had its "Road to the Final" advertisement banned by the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority as "socially irresponsible because it condoned or encouraged behaviour that was either illegal or not permitted." Banning the ad two months after the finals "seems a little like shutting the gate after the horse has bolted" (INSIDE WORLD FOOTBALL, 7/18). ... SBS Discovery Media has secured the exclusive rights for all 546 European Qualifiers to the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the UEFA Euro 2016. SBS Discovery Media -- representing and operating 20 TV brands and 19 radio stations in the Nordic countries -- has reached an agreement with UEFA, whereby SBS Discovery Media acquires the exclusive rights across TV, online and mobile platforms in Denmark, Sweden and Norway for all 546 qualifiers involving European teams, to the 2018 World Cup in Russia and Euro 2016 in France (SBS Discovery Media).