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UK networks retrans battle goes to Euro court

court of justice of the eu cjeuThe battle between three UK broadcasters and streaming site TVCatchup is headed to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).

This comes after the UK Court of Appeal referred the case, which hinges on the legality of TVCatchup’s business model, to the court after again questioning whether websites should provide real-time channel streaming.

TVCatchup retransmits programming from broadcasters over the internet, though it was blocked from transmitting 21 ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 channels and all content via mobiles in October 2013. The European Court of Justice had months before that ruled the service illegal.

The case mirrors the legal battle US broadcast networks fought against streaming site Aereo, which definitively ended last year in favour of the channels. With its business model ruled illegal, Aereo’s assets were subsequently sold off.

The CJEU’s next decision, which is likely to be between two and three years off, is likely to hold similar significance in the UK, according to legal sources.

“The outcome will have significant implications for internet TV streaming services who do not currently pay free to air broadcasters to provide their services, as well as consumers who enjoy the convenience provided by these streaming services,” said Theo Savvides, an intellectual property law specialist and partner at Bristows.