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Heavy fine in illegal football screening case

A pub supervisor in the north-west English city of Liverpool has been fined more than £22,000 (€30,000) for illegally showing BT Sport and Sky football matches following a successful prosecution by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Anthony Tynan, the designated premise supervisor at the Mariner, Whitefield Drive, Liverpool was found guilty on 30th July at Liverpool Magistrates Court of seven offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission (BT Sport and Sky football matches) with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge. This is contrary to Section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.

He was ordered to pay £2,000 per offence, as well as a £2,409 Victim Surcharge, £5,689 prosecution costs and a court charge of £520 bringing the total fine to £22,618.

Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager at the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) said the outcome at the start of a new football season was a timely reminder to the small number of licensees who persist in using illegal systems to show Sky and BT Sport broadcasts.

“FACT’s message to these individuals is, you will be caught and prosecuted. The lack of support provided to the defendant by the third party supplier in this case shows that in reality the often quoted promises to deal with any legal issues do not materialise. If licensees are using a system in their premises that is not supplied directly by Sky or BT Sport then they should seek independent advice.”

This conviction was carried out by FACT on behalf of its members and forms a key part of the industry’s commitment to protect pubs who invest in legitimate pay TV subscriptions.

Bruce Cuthbert, Director Commercial Customers BT Sport said: “It is regrettable that there are still licensees who are showing live sport illegally and that we have to resort to formal action. We think that BT Sport offers such great value for money that it shouldn’t be necessary for licensees to take any risk of prosecution. We do everything we can to ensure licensees are fully informed of the risk of showing live sport illegally and how they can show live sport on their premises to avoid prosecution.”

Alison Dolan, Deputy Managing Director at Sky Business, said: “This successful prosecution is the latest in a long list of cases in the past year. It serves as a reminder to landlords that Sky Sports is only available to pubs and clubs in mainland UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky; no other method of showing Sky Sports in licensed premises is legal. The significant fine that the court ordered is a further warning to those who engage in that this type of illegal activity. Sky is committed to protecting our legitimate customers. We visit thousands of pubs every season to monitor the games they’re showing, as well as investigating suppliers and continuing to support FACT’s work to investigate those who are illegally and unfairly seeking to gain an advantage through fraudulent means.”

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