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AESSI Welcomes this mornings High Court Application in Premier League vs Murphy case.

Plucky Portsmouth-based publican Karen Murphy today confirmed that she had, last night, appealed her case to the High Court, following a ruling against her earlier this month in favour of the Premier League’s agent, MPS (Media Protection Services). This ruling in the Portsmouth Crown Court completely contradicted that from a previous case heard before the Bolton Crown Court in March 2006 on the same point of Law.

Murphy, like many Licensees, has installed a European Satellite System in her premises, the ‘Red, White and Blue’ Public House in Southsea. She believed this system to be perfectly legal given Bolton Crown Courts precedent setting ruling on the same point of law (the parties to this were BSkyB, via FACT vs Gannon).

In summing up The Portsmouth case, however, HHJ Ian Pearson, sitting with two lay Justices, upheld Murphy’s conviction from the Magistrates Court, stating on several occasions that he strongly disagreed with HHJ Warnocks previous decision in the Bolton case.

A spokesman for AESSI (the Association of European Satellite System Installers), said “we are pleased with the outcome in the Portsmouth case, as the matter will now go to a Higher Court. This will enable a definite Legal Precedent to be set and completely clarify the position regarding the legitimacy of Foreign Satellite Systems in the UK”. They added “What’s more yesterdays application will mean really good news for Licensees currently under threat by MPS (Media Protection Services, a privately run company with no legal status) as all cases currently ongoing in lesser courts can be placed on-hold pending the High Court decision - expected in approximately 8 months”.

As the legitimate professional organisation representing Satellite System Installers the members of AESSI believe that the Premiere League and MPS will not be happy with the Portsmouth outcome as it has resulted in the matter going before a Higher Court as this will ultimately bring an end to their use of the Legal System as a means of intimidation.

AESSI believe that the Premier League have been systematically using the Courts as a method of intimidating Licensees who, AESSI maintain, have actually installed legitimate alternatives to Sky Satellite Systems. The apparent intention of these actions being to use fear of legal costs (win or lose) and aggravation as ‘leverage’ thus preventing others, as well as those specifically persecuted from showing football matches, ultimately forcing all UK Licensees to switch to using BSkyBs more expensive installation options.

“If this is their intention then it has backfired rather badly on Sky” jokes Joe Ibrahim of AESSI, as, in a bizarre twist, it was revealed today that if Murphy’s appeal to the Crown Court is upheld, it would also make illegal the nearly 2 million Sky systems that are presently installed across other countries in the EU. The Premier League may have irreparably severed a major artery of income for BSkyB, potentially costing the broadcaster billions in lost revenue

Simply put, the legislation under which this prosecution was brought, and the Portsmouth Court ruled, was specifically designed to incorporate EU statute 93/83, under which the judgement could be applied throughout the European Union against Sky in favour of the relevant local satellite broadcaster.

In karmic irony, the Premier Leagues relentless pursuit of one tiny public house may have just been the sledgehammer that cracked the table and missed the walnut altogether.

Following the Portsmouth ruling, Mr Phillip Davies, who investigates ‘piracy’ at Sky, told Iain O’Neil of the Morning Advertiser, with reference to the number of bars in Spain, Greece, France and Portugal showing Premiership football via Sky that this was "not something I am aware of".

In light of this comment, perhaps BSkyB is unaware of the impending impact of the Premier Leagues action upon their non-revenue from their non-existent-installations that they know nothing about.

One can only wonder what fabled, foxy, founder of NewsCorp and ultimate boss of BSkyB, Rupert Murdoch, will make of the matter or indeed of Mr Davies, when, and if, BSkyB finds itself facing multiple criminal prosecutions throughout Europe.

Brief Background:

The Premier League, via their agents MPS, have been bringing multiple prosecutions (up to 300) across the UK in Magistrates Courts with assorted and variable outcomes for over four years causing a great deal of stress to Licensees and costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of pounds to date, all with virtually no cost penalty to the Premier League themselves.
MPS, a privately owned company run by self-proclaimed ‘disinformation expert’, Ray Hoskin, have now, on behalf of the Premier League, taken to pressing criminal charges under an obscure Section of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (which is partially superseded by both Broadcasting Acts) which the DTI confirm is not applicable to the situation, and with which they have had very little success in higher UK courts. The defining case of BSkyB vs Gannon in Bolton ruled in favour of the Publican as they were not pirating but purchasing the broadcast signal from a legitimate European supplier (Judgement transcript available).

Prior to the case, both the DTI and OFCOM had confirmed in writing that AESSI members are operating entirely within the terms of the Broadcasting Acts and in line with European Single Market Legislation. Interestingly, it is under this very ‘single-market’ legislation that Sky also benefits as it facilitates the installation of their own decoder boxes situated in other operators ‘areas’ across the European Union. Presently there are estimated at just under 2million Sky installations, supplied via satellite shops and assorted system suppliers situated within the EU - installations that BSkyB include in their total UK figures ‘accounted for’, that they declare to Investors, the Stock Market, Channel Operators, RAJAR and other official bodies, but about which they apparently “not aware”.

About AESSI:

The Association of European Satellite Suppliers & Installers is the official organisation of legitimate installers in the UK. AESSI members work to the highest standards of quality and fully guarantee that they will install entirely and completely legal systems.
AESSI members are all law-abiding legitimate businesses who contribute over ten million pounds sterling per annum to the UK economy, they pay tax and VAT and create significant employment directly though their own specialist staff and indirectly through their customers increased revenue. For further information view their website on www.aessi.org

Notes To Editors:

Please contact the Press Office to organise interviews of the members of AESSI or the legal team. Please click the following link for direct access to the Press Assets Pages containing scans of relevant documents: www.aessi.org/press

Press enquiries:

Tel: +44 (0) 845 833 9295
Email: press@aessi.org
url: www.aessi.org

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