European Court upholds UK list of ‘crown jewel’ TV events

By Mary Mullen

On 18 July the Court of Justice of the European Union (the CJEU) handed down its judgment in FIFA and UEFA’s struggle around the listing of the World Cup and European Championships as free-to-air events.

Earlier this year we reported on the opinion of the Advocate General in the dispute, which recommended that FIFA and UEFA’s challenges against the European Commission, Britain and Belgium be dismissed. 

The UK and Belgium have traditionally broadcast all matches in the World Cup and European Championship tournaments through free-to-air broadcasters (the BBC and ITV in the UK), relying on OFCOM provisions that designate these tournaments as events of national importance or ‘crown jewels’ to which the public should have access. FIFA and UEFA challenged this listing in the hope that they could extend their market for at least some of these matches (particularly those not involving the domestic national team) so that their potential purchasers could also include pay TV operators…

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