GO gives users chance to opt out of sports package following English Premier League changes

GO gives some subscribers chance to opt out of sports package following changes to English Premier League broadcasting rights

From this season GO is only showing one match from the EPL Saturday 4pm programme
From this season GO is only showing one match from the EPL Saturday 4pm programme

GO is offering customers who subscribed to its Sports Premium Package between 4 July 2016 and 12 August 2016 the opportunity to opt out of the package without paying a penalty.

Viewers and football fans are up in arms because GO – which holds the rights to screen the English Premier League (EPL) – was only showing one match from the Saturday 4pm programme.

Last month MaltaToday had reported that many users called on GO to allow them to unsubscribe from their contracts without incurring any fees. However, when asked by MaltaToday, GO’s spokesperson insisted that this will not be possible. 

However, GO has now decided to offer an opt out to customers who subscribed between July and August after acknowledging “the delay between the initial press release announcing the changes to the broadcasting of English Premier League matches mandated by the Premier League, and the publication of updated information on GO’s website.”

While maintaining that it has not committed any breach of consumer protection or any other law, GO said it is acting out of respect for customers and to maintain goodwill.

GO is currently in the process of directly contacting all customers who are eligible to rescind their GO Sports Premium package and therefore there is no need for customers to take any action.

The sudden change in broadcasting rights boils down to the European Court of Justice’s ruling in a case instigated by the Premier League against importers of decoder cards into the UK from other EU member states. The cards allowed English pubs to show live EPL football games on satellite TV on Saturday afternoons, thereby getting around the England footballing body’s 3pm “blackout rule.”

In place since the 1960s, the blackout bans UK broadcasters from showing matches on Saturday at 3pm, as a means of encouraging football fans to attend their teams’ matches.

 The EPL had demanded a blanket ban on foreign decoding devices in the UK, but the European Court of Justice met them halfway and instead ordered restrictions in the EPL’s contracts with EU broadcasters.

As a result, EU licensees are no longer allowed to transmit more than one live Premier League game on Saturday afternoons. All games also have to broadcast the commentary in that country’s language, limiting the English language to the UK, Ireland, and partially Malta.

Following the unexpected change in broadcasting, GO was flooded by complaints on its Facebook page from angry users about the delayed games and the Maltese commentary on certain matches.