Sky Austria setback in battle with the ORF

Pay TV Sky Sport Austria is not entitled to payments from the ORF when the state TV uses its soccer coverage as clips in news reports, an expert report to Europe’s highest court says.

The case is being widely watched across the world, where offshoots of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp have bought up live rights to sports to encourage consumers to sign up for pay TV services.

Under a European Union directive, a channel with exclusive rights to sports events must let others access the signal to choose short extracts to show in news bulletins. This access must be provided at cost price.

Sky Sport Austria wanted to be able to charge the ORF for access to clips involving Austrian teams playing in soccer’s Europa League. The cost of the access was zero in this case so no payment was made.

Yves Bot, an advocate-general at the Luxembourg-based EU Court of Justice (ECJ), said the limitation on charges was justified. ECJ judges will now examine the case after Bot’s non-binding opinion.

Bot noted that access was granted only for events which were of high public interest and then only for extracts of 90 seconds or less. Secondary broadcasters also have to identify where the extracts came from, generating publicity for the rights holder.

Sky Sport Austria is part of Sky Deutschland, 49.9 percent owned by News Corp.