by John Harrington
Sky subscriptions for pubs should be set at twice the level of domestic users, based on VAT returns, or reflect the capacity of the area of the pub where sport is screened.
These were among suggestions made by licensees who contacted the Morning Advertiser following last week's story that Sky is in talks about its charging system for pubs and clubs.
Chris Steward, a tenant who dropped Sky this season be-cause of the increased cost, said he had previously shown sport in just one room of his pub, the Prince Albert in Brighton, which could only fit in around 25 people.
But because he has a large pub, with six rooms and a capacity of around 250, he was paying a huge amount to show sport to no more than a few dozen people.
Stewart suggested that subscriptions should be based on the capacity of the area that is being used for screening sport, in the same way as a Public Entertainment Licence.
Douglas Stoneley-Hulme, of the Antelope, Bolton, suggested a "penny in the pound" rateable value system like the Business Rates system. He added: "Everyone would have their own charge, as opposed to the current system where it is possible to be paying the same price as premises with a rateable value that's double yours. However, if this system is adopted by Sky it would have to ensure the multiplier is set at a fair amount."
A Stockport tenant, who declined to be named, suggested that Sky should set its subscriptions for pubs at double the level for domestic users. Hosts would be allowed to show sport in the pub itself or the private living area. Alternatively, Sky should set its charges against the VAT paid by pubs. He suggested licensees could give Sky a copy of their VAT returns for the last 12 months.
"That would give a true idea of what the licensee is doing and how much floor space we have."
l Letters p14