Law

Pubco hit with record fine for playing Sky Sports illegally

By Oli Gross contact

- Last updated on GMT

Pubco hit with record fine for playing Sky Sports illegally

Related tags: Sky sports, Public house

Punishments for pubs playing Sky Sports illegally are more severe than ever, with one pubco ordered to pay a record £23,907 for playing football without a licence.

Sheldon Inns Ltd was slapped with the fine for playing Sky Sports without a commercial agreement with Sky Business in the Castle Inn, Kidderminster.

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) secured the record conviction after the pubco entered a guilty plea on 29 February at Redditch Magistrates Court for dishonest reception of a television transmission with intent to avoid payment.

Warning

Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager for FACT, said: “It was mentioned in court that Sheldon Inns ran twenty seven public houses. This result should act as a warning to other similar sized companies to review their television arrangements, particularly if they are using a supplier other than Sky or BT.”

“This case shows that licensees, employees and associated companies can each face unlimited fines for every offence they commit. On top of this, the court can order legal costs to be paid and there is a requirement to inform the local licensing authority of the criminal offence, which can impact their licenses - it simply isn’t worth the risk.”

A further two pubs were recently prosecuted by FACT for screening Sky Sports without a commercial agreement with Sky Business.

The Brookhouse Inn in Wigan and the Pig and Whistle in Norwich were ordered to pay a combined total of more than £13,000 in fines and costs.

Short-changed

Alison Dolan, deputy managing director of Sky Business, said: “This issue is very close to the hearts of our legitimate Sky pub customers who are being left short-changed by licensees broadcasting Sky content illegally.

“It creates an uneven playing field for their businesses, which is why we are committed to visiting thousands of pubs this season, as well as investigating suppliers and continuing to support FACT’s work.”

There have been 34 prosecutions brought by FACT this season alone, bringing total fines and costs paid by licensees to £149,218.

“These latest convictions demonstrate the potential financial cost to businesses who choose to broadcast matches to which Sky has exclusive rights in the UK without the correct commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business,” Dolan added.

Protecting legitimate pubs

The convictions are part of Sky’s commitment to protect pubs who invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions.

Sky has vowed to visit every licensed premises reported by other publicans or organisations for illegally showing Sky, and the company will visit more than 700 pubs each week this season.      

Any licensee affected by these issues can report suspected illegal broadcasting in confidence at http://business.sky.com/fighting-fraud

Related topics: Sport

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