The Administrative Court in Munich, Germany ruled the current broadcast ban declared by the Bavarian State Media Authority (BLM) on UFC events as ‘illegitimate’ and annulled it accordingly.
The court ruled on Oct. 9, 2014, in favor of Zuffa, the company behind the UFC, the world’s largest mixed martial arts promoter, who filed a lawsuit against the Bavarian State Media Authority (BLM) in 2010 when they declared the ban.
According to the court it can be assumed that UFC content is generally suitable for broadcast. A violation of general morality or undesirable influence on youth cannot be determined. Rather the court finds the assessment of mixed martial arts as a plausible sport.
The court sees the declared broadcast ban at any rate as disproportional. The BLM does not have legal grounds for banning programming that it only deems undesirable from its own point of view. Eventually, in no sense did the BLM take into consideration the legally protected rights of Zuffa.
Until March 2010, viewers in Germany could watch UFC events on TV channel Sport1/DSF, but BLM imposed the ban, reversing permission it had previously granted just one year before.
UFC Chief Global Brand Officer Garry Cook said: “This verdict is a milestone for the UFC and for the many UFC fans in Germany. The court has confirmed that it was illegitimate to ban our broadcast programs. We always had confidence in the German market and felt a responsibility to grow the sport and satisfy demand – this is why we fought against this ban. We will continue to work intensively to bring events, content and original programming to German viewers.”
The UFC returned to Germany in May 2014 to host an event at the O2 World in Berlin after an absence of five years. The event sold over 8,000 tickets and was watched by over 500,000 in Germany across numerous platforms.
UFC programming is broadcast in 129 countries to nearly 800 million TV households worldwide in 28 different languages. The UFC has a variety of multi-year broadcast agreements with some of the biggest networks throughout Europe, including BT Sport, TV12, C More, Abu Dhabi Media, Setanta and Kombat Sports.
The BLM can appeal against this verdict to The Administrative Court.