“Ucomel”: Court Partially Satisfies Lawsuit on EPL Broadcast

25.11.2017, Newsroom

Journalist

The court has made a judgment on the case known by the name “Ucomel.” Attorney Grigor Bekmezyan’s lawsuit against local internet service provider Ucom was partially satisfied. The court obliged Ucom to reduce the subscription fee for the period it blocked access to the England Premier League (EPL) matches, while the request to oblige the company to broadcast the matches was denied.

Bekmezyan, a Ucom customer, had launched a lawsuit against Ucom, since the company at the hour of the EPL matches, shuts down the broadcast of Russian Match TV, Football 1, Football 2, Football 3, and other sports channels. Ucom justified the move by stating that the exclusive right to broadcast the EPL matches for 2016–2019 in Armenia was acquired by the Second Armenian Channel (H2).

On November 17, the court decided that Ucom must compensate Bekmezyan 1080 AMD (a little over US$2) for each month since August 2016 (when the broadcast of EPL matches began to be suspended). 

“A very complex calculation was made. The channels broadcast by Ucom that don’t fit in any package have their price, beginning from 100 dram. We calculated the price of the Match TV package of channels and came up with 1080 dram. This is the part that the court obliged Ucom to compensate for services not rendered,” said Bekmezyan. 

The court determined the deadline of the compensation to be until the execution of the judgment. Bekmezyan found it hard to say what that means. It’s still unclear whether Ucom will also charge him 1080 AMD less in the coming months or not. The attorney assumes yes.

Bekmezyan says: “We won on one part and we’re happy; we lost on the other part of the lawsuit, [but] we were expecting that. In any case, we will continue to pursue the matter of H2’s exclusive [broadcasting] rights. We remain committed to the claim that even if H2 has the exclusive right, but not for all 10 matches, just for 2. It’s highly questionable for us why a TV company having the broadcasting right of all matches only broadcast two of them.”

The attorney says that other Ucom subscribers may also apply to court for compensation.

This lawsuit was open to citizens to join with the same demand. Three citizens joined the lawsuit. The court by a protocol decision refused Ara Melikyan’s, Sargis Torosyan’s, and Lusine Grigoryan’s petitions on including a third party who does not submit an independent claim to the subject of the dispute. 

The court noted that Melikyan, Torosyan, and Grigoryan didn’t substantiate in any way the impact on their interests of the judicial act in the civil case.

Grigoryan, an attorney and member of the Chamber of Advocates, considers this decision of the court’s incomprehensible. “I, in turn, brought to the attention of the court a copy of my agreement, from which it is clearly evident that I have also chosen the additional paid TV channels and make use of them, and I am actually deprived of the right to watch the EPL matches. I believe this decision of the court’s is arbitrary and surprising. Our rights were violated by it.”

The protocol decisions, according to Armenia’s Civil Procedure Code, cannot be appealed. 

The court’s judgment on Bekmezyan’s lawsuit will come into legal force on December 17. Both parties (the plaintiff and Ucom) have three weeks to appeal the decision. Grigoryan says since the protocol decision cannot be appealed, she will join her colleague and his team of students if they intend to appeal the ruling in a higher court.

Gagik Aghbalyan

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