We always love a story about an underdog taking on the big mega-corporations, but they’re especially sweet if their actions may well serve to save us all a few quid in the long-run.
As is the case of Karen Murphy vs. Sky TV. She’s the pub landlady of the Red, White and Blue in Southsea who got a bit miffed about having to pay £500 a month to Sky to be able to provide her punters with Premier League football matches while having a beer.
Instead, she found herself a cheap Greek set-top box and began picking up the matches from that territory, independent of Sky. This didn’t go down too well with Rupert Murdoch’s broadcasting empire, who pay a premium alongside ESPN to provide exclusive rights to the games.
Naturally, they took Murphy to court, forcing her to pay £8,000 in fines.
Unperturbed, the landlady took the amtter all the way to the European Court of Justice, with the court prosecutor issuing an opinion in her favour. The European courts state that it is “contrary to European Union Law” to restrict the sale and viewing of sports rights to one country, in effect stating that there’s nothing Sky can do to stop Ms Murphy from using the Greek box and opening her showings up to the public.
This opinion isn’t a final ruling, but invariably the Courts tend to side with the prosecutor’s view.
It’s potentially a massive thing that the Red, White and Blue pub has sparked here; if the court’s side with Murphy, it sets the precedent that any pub can choose to use an alternative service legally, and by extension, any household too. Sky and ESPN would lose the monopoly over the incredibly lucrative football rights, and would be forced to lower the costs of their sports packages to stay competitve.
The little pub that could may well have just bagged cheap Sky TV for all of us.
By Gerald Lynch | February 4th, 2011