Power Trip: Karen Murphy

Student Life

Name: Karen Murphy

Isn’t she on the Apprentice? No, that’s Karren Brady. But just like the ex-Birmingham City boss, this woman is making waves in the man’s world of football.

Why? Is she a new manager? No, wait, she’s a goalie! Amazing! – Actually, she’s a pub landlady from Portsmouth. Sorry to disappoint.

What has she done then? Won a landmark victory at the European Courts of Justice. Murphy was fined £9000 by the Premier League for using a Greek decoder to stream live football matches (around a tenth of the cost of Sky Sports, the only UK channel authorized to broadcast them). She appealed, and last Tuesday a court in Luxembourg agreed that the current arrangement was against EU free trade law. She got her money back.

Good for her, but what does that mean for the rest of us?
A lot more pubs could follow in Murphy’s footsteps and get European decoders, dodging massive charges and allowing smaller venues to screen sports matches, even ones not on Sky. Once the necessary equipment gets a bit less expensive, eager fans could do the same. Until then, yet another reason to go to your local.

I’ve always preferred watching it live, though. There could be something in it for you too. It is thought that with more people watching in pubs, football clubs may have to drop admission prices to stay competitive.

Great – I’ll get my local to buy a decoder then. Not so fast. There’s still a copyright issue with the branding that surrounds each Premier League game – it’s unclear whether Sky can get around the ruling just by putting their logo in the corner of the screen. Keen home viewers (who don’t have to worry about copyright) may have to grapple with foreign-language commentary, but in the wake of the ruling, several European channels should start catering to UK audiences.

Back of the net! Indeed.

Do say: “Murdoch must be sick as a parrot.”
Don’t say: “Drinks are on you then, Karen”

Jack Peters



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