Southsea landlady wins football decoder battle

VICTORY Red, White and Blue landlady Karen Murphy pictured in October 2010
VICTORY Red, White and Blue landlady Karen Murphy pictured in October 2010
Portsmouth Magistrates Court.''Picture: Cesar Moreno Huerta

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Pub landlady Karen Murphy has today finally won her battle with the Premier League over the use of a foreign TV decoder to screen games.

For six years she has been fighting for permission to show matches in the Red, White and Blue pub, in Fawcett Road, Southsea, while bypassing the hefty fees demanded by Sky.

Now the High Court has quashed the conviction she received in 2006, when she was prosecuted for breaching copyright law when she decided to use a broadcaster not authorised by the League, Greek channel Nova.

Outside the court Karen stood on the steps and thanked everyone who had supported her.

‘Brilliant, that’s what I feel today,’ she said. ‘I was morally and legally right and it’s been proven today that I was.

‘As with any corporation they treat you as the little man; you’re insiginificant to them, they just want to stand on you and make as much money as they possibly can, so I’m just one of those victims I’m afraid.

‘It’s been up and down like a rollercoaster, (there have been) tears, laughter all sorts, the whole emotion range really.’

Asked if she would now resume broadcasting matches using her Greek Nova decoder she said: ‘Watch this space. If I can, I will.’

It follows a historic victory in the European Court of Justice which ruled that an exclusive system of licences for the broadcasting of football matches in different EU countries is ‘contrary to EU law’.

But the judge in the case made clear that many other complex issues regarding the wider legality of screening matches would have to be decided ‘at a later date’.

Instead of using Sky, which has the rights to screen the Premier League in the UK, Ms Murphy used the Greek station Nova’s coverage in her pub, which was cheaper than the equivalent Sky package.

She paid £800 a year for a Greek decoder, saying she “couldn’t afford” Sky’s charge of £700 a month.

She took her fight for the right to use the cheaper provider to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) which ruled in October 2011 that having an exclusive system was “contrary to EU law”.

But the Premier League claimed a partial victory, after the ECJ said it maintained the copyright for some sections of the broadcast.

Mrs Murphy, who ran The Red, White and Blue pub in Portsmouth, Hampshire, said she believed she had won “90%” of the battle.

The ruling was enough for all sides to concede today at London’s High Court that Ms Murphy’s conviction could not stand, - though many issues over screening games remain outstanding.

Mrs Murphy took her fight to the ECJ after being ordered to pay almost £8,000 in fines and costs.

The case is being seen as of importance to the way soccer TV rights are sold in the future and could have a crucial impact on the game as a whole.