Six licensees in the northwest of England have been found guilty of dishonest reception of a television transmission by showing Sky Sports to customers without a commercial agreement from Sky.
In the first of three cases, Janet Ferguson, Lisa Kaye and Arnold Martin of The Mayflower in Bootle, Merseyside, were found guilty in their absence of six offences and were each fined £750 (€837) per offence and ordered to pay £170 Victim Surcharge and costs of £779.77, totalling £5,449.77 each (a grand total of £16,349.31).
In a second case brought by UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), Carl Furlong and Peter Scully of the Park Hotel in Liverpool, Merseyside, were found guilty in their absence of four offences and were ordered to pay a combined total of £14,810 in fines and costs.
Most recently, Eric Hoyle of the Summit Pub in Heywood, was found guilty in his absence of three offences and was fined £2,000 per offence and ordered to pay £120 Victim Surcharge and costs of £2,116.80, totalling £8,236.80.
FACT brought the criminal prosecutions against the licensees for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business. Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution.
“These cases should send a clear warning to pub owners and licensees who show Sky broadcasts without a commercial subscription,” asserted Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager, FACT. “If convicted, fines for this offence are unlimited and you may have to pay substantial legal costs, as well as putting yourself at risk of having your licence suspended or revoked.”
“This is the latest in a long line of criminal cases FACT has successfully prosecuted resulting in big fines, demonstrating the seriousness of fraudulently screening TV programmes,” added George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky. “The law is clear – the only legal way to show Sky Sports programming in licensed premises in the UK is through a valid commercial viewing agreement with Sky.”
“We remain committed to visiting thousands of pubs, as well as investigating suppliers, to protect our customers and ensure they are not left short-changed by illegal activity. If you choose to televise content illegally then you run the very real risk of being caught and having legal action taken against you – the risks are not worth running”.
Working with FACT forms a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs and clubs who invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. Sky is committed to visiting every licensed premises reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky and has made arrangements to visit hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this year.