Santockh Singh Chahal and John Hart, licensees of The Chesterfield, Newcastle Upon Tyne in the northeast of England, have been convicted in their absence of eight offences each for 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.
Between August 2018 and May 2019, The Chesterfield screened Sky Sports on numerous occasions throughout the football season. No financial agreement was in place and despite numerous visits from Sky investigators, the communication with both Singh Chahal and Hart proved challenging. Magistrates agreed and forfeited the Personal Alcohol Licences for both defendants.
They were also fined £1,598.40 (€1,780) each on the first offence with no separate penalty on the remaining seven and were also ordered to pay full costs of £2,292.66 and £120 Victim Surcharge, totalling £4,411.06 each and £8,822.12 overall.
UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT brought the criminal prosecution on June 13th 2019 at Sheffield Magistrates Court against the licensees for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place. Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution.
“It’s important to us that businesses are aware of the consequences of showing Sky Sports illegally,” remarked George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky. “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.”
“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 visit hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK.