Mark Clennell, the Designated Premises Supervisor of The Wheatsheaf in Houghton le Spring, Tyne and Wear in the northeast of England, has been convicted in his absence of two offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission, in this case, Sky televised football matches, with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.
Clennell was fined £1,142 per offence, ordered to pay costs of £3,819.46 and £170 victim surcharge bringing the total amount to £6,273.46.
UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) brought the criminal prosecution at Sunderland Magistrates Court against the licensee for showing Sky Sports to customers without having a valid commercial viewing agreement in place. 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,” declared 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.”
“It’s important to us that businesses are aware of the consequences of showing Sky Sports illegally – it is a serious issue that is damaging to the pub industry, and those licensees who choose to televise content in this way should be aware that they are at high risk of being caught and face substantial penalties,” advised George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky. “We actively visit thousands of pubs every season to monitor the games they are showing and continue to support FACT’s work to protect hardworking Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity.”
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 during 2018.