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European Court backs limitations on compensation for ORF news clips

KommAustria, the Austrian media regulator, was justified in limiting the price Sky Austria could charge the country’s public-service broadcaster ORF for using the pay-television broadcaster’s clips of football matches during its news reports, according to an advocate-general of the European Court of Justice, Europe’s highest court.

Sky, which held exclusive rights to Uefa Europa League matches within Austria for three years, from 2009-10 to 2011-12, challenged KommAustria’s order to provide short clips to ORF with the public-service broadcaster only required to pay Sky compensation for the cost of accessing the satellite signal.

“The limitation of the compensation payable by a television channel for the use of short extracts of high-interest events to the public, such as football matches, is justified,” the court said in a press release, referring to the opinion of Yves Bot, an advocate-general at the court.

“The extracts provided may be used solely for general news programmes and only for the purpose of short news reports. Furthermore, the short extracts should not exceed 90 seconds. Lastly, the obligation on secondary broadcasters to identify the sources of extracts ensures that the holders of exclusive rights are given publicity,” Bot said.

The court’s judges will now examine the case, but if they support Bot’s non-binding opinion, European rights-holders may be restricted in the fees they can charge rivals for showing clips of sporting action during news bulletins.