If you think this is good news, you need to reconsider your premises and take a reality check.
It’s not good enough to simply say “oh good, this means I get to watch World Cup games for free” ignoring the far more important, and sinister, premise underlying this.
For once I actually agree with UEFA when it says that the government has created “a disproportionate and unjustified distortion of competition on the relevant market.” Incidentally, this statement could and should be applied to government meddling in ALL markets – but most people usually object only when they feel aggrieved, just as most people turn a blind eye to government meddling when it appears to benefit them in the short term. This ruling unnaturally manipulates the market, and prevents property owners getting value for money, and prevents broadcasters competing fairly over coverage rights. You might say it’s unfair on you to have to pay to watch a certain event (as if you have the god-given Right to someone else’s property just because you’d like it, and what events do you have a “right” to watch and which ones don’t you?), but what about what’s fair on UEFA, FIFA, and all the TV companies? Does your “interest” trump their property?
(Also, there are no “free” channels in the UK, given that the British people are subjected to perhaps the most ludicrous and laughable tax ever invented, the TV License; a license that funnels tax money to the State’s official broadcaster, allowing it to compete with proper broadcasters who must actually earn their income.)
A spokesman for the UK department of culture, media and sport said: “We welcome the decision from the EU and continue to support the principle of protecting sports events for free-to-air coverage.” But why are some events exempt from fair (and free) trade and some aren’t? On what grounds does government decide to make certain events “untouchable” simply because they think a large number of people have an interest in watching such events? What if the government decided that these events are so important you must pay for the privilege and judged World Cup matches to be off-limits to the general public (similar to what North Korean has done)? At what percentage interest of the population does this become legally and morally right?
There is no objective answer to these questions, because it really comes down to what a group of bureaucrats generally feel is good or bad for an arbitrary and undefined group of people – and just as that group may grow or shrink, change interests, or have no say at all – their opinion will vacillate and meander too. In other words, they do whatever they think a large enough group will like. If you want an example of mob rule, this is it.
Make no mistake; if you distil the issue to the core you’ll see it is simply this: the government can dictate what property of others it may dish out free of charge to the mob. The government may decide what is of certain significance and therefore worthy of special State privileges. The other side of this fascist coin is that it thereby decrees what form of event or speech is unacceptable – which it already has done in the form of “hate speech” and other politically-correct nonsense.
The government should be a legal arbiter – not a moral one. So long as UEFA and FIFA sell their property to buyers, there is no dispute to resolve. If that means that certain broadcasters are left behind, that’s business. Remember, the only reason the BBC can compete with anyone in the first place is because of tax money and special government privileges. The BBC can’t compete fairly with proper broadcasters because it doesn’t generate enough of its own wealth (this is just one reason why socialism doesn’t work). If the government gave Sky some special law allowing it exclusivity over TV shows, wouldn’t there be an outrage? Why then is it ok to rule some programmes “off limits” to free and fair trade? Why is ok to give ITV a special leg-up too?
This may seem like a minor issue, but if so, it’s only because government dictatorship has become a way of life. We are so used to it being involved in every field from healthcare to science to sport, that we take it for granted and turn a blind eye. But, since government power is the power to use force against citizens, as its power grows, your liberties will necessarily diminish. And its power is growing all the time. Don’t be part of the mob that cheers for more socialist agendas and promises of “equal wealth” or “equal football broadcast rights” – nothing is free. Government interference always costs you. They say “every man has his price”. What is yours? A free lunch? A free state benefit? A free football match?