A licensee in the Merseyside area of northwest England has been found guilty of two offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission by showing Sky Sports football matches to customers without a commercial agreement from Sky.
Sam Tate, designated premises supervisor of the Queens Hotel, Bootle, was found guilty in his absence of two offences and was fined £2,500 (€2,835) per offence and ordered to pay £170 Victim Surcharge and prosecution costs of £10,230.90, bringing the total figure in fines and costs to £15,400.90.
UK intellectual property protection body FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) brought the criminal prosecution on November 27th 2017 at Sefton Magistrates Court against the licensee 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,” noted 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.”
George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky, added: “We take piracy very seriously and remain committed to protecting our legitimate Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity. Those licensees who choose to televise content illegally should be aware that they are at high risk of being caught and face substantial penalties and a criminal conviction. The only legal way to show Sky Sports programming in licensed premises in the UK is via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky.”
This prosecution was brought by FACT. 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.