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High Court overturns licensee's conviction for using foreign satellite

Mon 28th Mar 2011 | Television & Broadcasting

The High Court has quashed a pub licensee’s conviction for screening Premier League football via a foreign satellite system.

According to the Morning Advertiser, Gregory Turner, of the Golden Cup in Burton-On-Trent, was ordered to pay £19,294 in costs after losing his initial appeal over a £500 fine.

But on 1 March this year, it’s understood the High Court quashed both the original conviction and a subsequent decision by Stafford Crown Court confirming the conviction.

Both courts were ordered to repay to Turner everything he had paid by way of fines and costs.

On overturning the case, High Court judges ruled that Stafford Crown Court had not considered the impact of EU law on the case in which the long-running Karen Murphy case is currently being considered by judges at the European Court of Justice.

Although, Turner had been using Arab Radio and Television (ART) Network to screen games, he argued that ART were also trading in Italy.

Turner’s lawyer, Paul Dixon of Molesworths solicitors told the Morning Advertiser; “The High Court did not hesitate to overturn the decisions of the lower courts and quash the original conviction.”

The Premier League are currently waiting for a decision from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on the legality of using foreign satellite systems to screen live football in pubs.

In February Advocate General Kokott, advised the ECJ that the Premier League’s sale of TV broadcasting rights on a territorial basis in Europe contravened EU law stating; European Union law does not make it possible to prohibit the live transmission of Premier League football matches in pubs by means of foreign decoder cards.”

The case now awaits a final judgment from the ECJ which will see a change in the way the Premier League packages its TV deals across Europe. 

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