MOSCOW, January 22 - RAPSI. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) held Tuesday that in cases involving events that generate a great deal of public interest, such as certain sporting events, the cost exclusive broadcast holders charge for rights to air short news clips can be limited.

The Austrian Federal Communications Senate (AFCS) referred the case to the ECJ for clarification on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (Directive), a 2010 directive on the coordination of laws and regulations concerning audiovisual media service provision.

According to an ECJ press release, the Directive “authorizes any broadcaster established in the EU to produce short news reports on events of high interest to the public, where those events are subject to exclusive broadcasting rights. Short extracts may be chosen freely from the signal of the holder of the exclusive broadcasting rights, which may request compensation corresponding only to the additional costs directly incurred in providing access to the signal.”

The case arises from a dispute between Sky Osterreich and Austrian public broadcaster ORF. Sky’s Austrian sports network acquired exclusive rights to broadcast certain Europa League football matches. The Austrian communications regulator then ordered Sky to allow ORF to broadcast short news clips without considering the costs money that Sky invests in maintaining exclusive rights to the footage.

The ECJ held that the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (Charter) does not preclude limiting to technical costs the compensation holders of exclusive broadcasting rights can seek from other media outlets for short news clips.

With regard to the protection of property as a fundamental right, the court held that Sky’s rights were not infringed upon by virtue of the fact that by the time it had acquired exclusive rights to the Europa League matches at issue in August 2009, EU law providing for the right to limit compensation for short news broadcasts of exclusive footage was already in place.

While the ECJ found that the disputed legislation did infringe upon the fundamental freedom to conduct business, such infringement was justified in this case. The freedom to conduct business can be limited if such is in the public interest.