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Pubs showing Norwich City games risk prosecution, warns Premier League

Norwich players celebrate Grant Holt's equaliser against Chelsea. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.

Norwich players celebrate Grant Holt's equaliser against Chelsea. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.

©Focus Images Limited info@focus-images.co.uk +44814 482222

Pub landlords who show live Norwich City matches through foreign satellite television feeds have been warned by the Premier League they are running the risk of prosecution.

As reported in the Evening News, many pubs and bars around the city have advertised that they are showing all the Canaries’ home and away games on their big screens, using decoders to subscribe to foreign TV networks.

Some landlords believe it is legal to do so, because of a case where a pub landlady in Portsmouth took her bid to beam matches via a feed from Greek television all the way to the European Court of Justice.

While the court has yet to make its ruling, and will not do so until October, an advocate general — an influential legal advisor to the judges — gave an opinion which some landlords have mistakenly already accepted as giving the green light to them showing the games.

But the advocate general’s views, including that the use of decoder cards could not be restricted to one territorty, is not binding on the court.

And until the court actually makes a decision, it remains illegal to show the programmes in the UK, and the Premier League today made clear landlords caught showing the matches run the risk of prosecution.

A spokesman said: “No judgment has yet been made in the case, which is an appeal by a publican and a supplier against their convictions in UK courts, therefore it is not legal to broadcast Barclays Premier League football using foreign satellite equipment.

“In keeping with any ECJ case an opinion was given by the Advocate General. This is not a judgment and should not be used to confuse publicans into thinking that they can legitimately use foreign decoder cards or other foreign satellite equipment to broadcast Premier League football.

“The Premier League continues to prosecute licensees that flout the law; in February this year 11 pub landlords using foreign satellite equipment in Hull were convicted of breaching the Premier League’s copyright and fined in excess of £150,000.

“In that case the judge rejected defence pleas that their situation was in some way affected by Advocate General’s opinion. There have been numerous other prosecutions for copyright infringements this year.

“It is also worth noting that there is a 3pm closed window in the UK whereby no broadcaster is legitimately allowed to broadcast any football that kicks off at 3pm on a Saturday.

“This is supported by the Premier League, FA and Football League, the Government and the European Union as it helps encourage attendance and participation throughout the football pyramid.

“Any publican who uses foreign satellite equipment to broadcast Premier League Football on a Saturday at 3pm is therefore not only breaching our copyright but also eroding this English football tradition.

“We will continue to monitor all pubs for use of foreign satellite equipment and prosecute when appropriate. We hope that this statement will help inform publicans in Norwich of the facts of the current situation.”

• What’s your view on the issue? Write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email eveningnewsletters@archant.co.uk

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