On 4 October 2011, the European Court of Justice (the ECJ) gave its ruling on questions referred from the England and Wales High Court, in relation to the use of foreign satellite decoder cards for the broadcast of English Football Association Premier League matches.
The ECJ ruled that national legislation which protects the grant of absolute territorial exclusivity by prohibiting the import, sale or use of foreign decoder cards contravenes the EU law principle of freedom to provide services (Article 56 TFEU). The ECJ ruled that such a grant of absolute territorial exclusivity could not be justified on the respective grounds of protecting intellectual property rights or encouraging the public to attend football matches (rather than watching the football games on television). The ECJ did, however, conclude that broadcasts in a pub containing works protected by copyright (such as opening video sequences) may be a "communication to the public" under the Copyright Directive, and require authorisation from the author of the works.
Furthermore, the ECJ ruled that where a licence agreement is designed to prohibit or limit the cross-border provision of broadcasting services, it may fall within the prohibition against anti-competitive agreements under Article 101(1) TFEU.