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Jan 22 (Reuters) - Sky Austria, part of the News Corp media empire, has been told that it cannot charge a rival broadcaster for access to clips from soccer matches used in news reports.
The case was being watched across the European Union as it has implications for broadcasters who have paid heavily to buy up sports screening rights.
Under a European Union directive a channel with exclusive rights to show sports events must allow rival broadcasters access to the signal to select extracts of up to 90 seconds for news bulletins. Any access must be provided at cost price, zero in this case.
"The limitation of costs for broadcasting short news events of high interest to the public, such as football matches, is valid," the EU's Court of Justice said in a press release on Tuesday.
The case centred on Sky's rights to show Europa League soccer matches in Austria and whether public broadcaster ORF should be able to use clips from them in news bulletins.
Sky Austria said it was not surprised at the decision, which was in line with guidance last year from an adviser to Europe's highest court.
"In the name of all owners of exclusive rights, Sky has tried to reach clarification on whether the provision of exclusive content free of charge constitutes a disproportionate intervention in the basic right of ownership," it said in a statement.
"The confirmation of the verdict will not change the cooperation with other TV stations which has been practised since 2010," it added.
Sky Austria is part of Sky Deutschland, whose largest shareholder is News Corp.