EU Court Backs Free-To-Air TV Coverage Of Football Finals
An advisor to Europe's highest court ruled that Britain and Belgium "should be allowed to ensure free-to-air TV coverage of the World Cup and Euro football finals as they consider them of major public importance," according to Foo Yun Chee of REUTERS. FIFA and UEFA argued that the two countries had interfered with its property rights by "restricting the broadcast of both competitions to free-to-air TV channels, preventing pay-TV companies from bidding to screen them." TV broadcasting rights for the finals of the major tournaments, held every four years, "account for a significant source of revenues" for FIFA and UEFA. Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice will "rule on the case in the coming months." While the advocate general's opinion "does not tie the judges hands, they follow advisers' recommendations in the majority of cases" (REUTERS, 12/12). BLOOMBERG's Stephanie Bodoni reported EUCJ Advocate General Niilo Jaeaeskinen said EU nations can include the World and Euro championships in lists of events that are "of major importance" to society and can "require that they be broadcast on free-to-air television." The court "follows such advice in most cases." FIFA and UEFA are "appealing a lower court ruling" concerning the U.K. and Belgium that determined fans with access to a TV should be able to watch World Cup and European Championship matches, which involve national teams, for free (BLOOMBERG, 12/12).