A venue in Warrington, Cheshire, and another in Wallasey, Merseyside, were handed combined fines of £7,000 by judges after they were found to be broadcasting Sky Sports without a licence.
Peter Hibbs and Daniel Barker from the Imperial Hotel in Warrington appeared at North Cheshire Magistrates Court on 1 February.
Both men were convicted in their absence, of four offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission (a Sky televised football match) at the pub with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge.
The offences are in contrary to section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988 and in addition to receiving criminal convictions.
Hibbs and Barker, the designated premises supervisor and manager respectively, were ordered to pay £766 in fines, a £77 victim surcharge and £1,500 in prosecution costs each.
Fines for the offence are unlimited
In a separate case, George Redpath of the Great Float Social Club appeared at Wirral Magistrates’ Court and was prosecuted by the Federation Against copyright Theft (FACT) for broadcasting Sky Sports without the correct commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.
He was ordered to pay £550 in fines, £55 victim surcharge and £2,000 in prosecutions costs.
FACT prosecuting manager Stephen Gerrard said the two cases should send a clear warning to operators not to show Sky broadcasts without a commercial subscription.
He added: “It 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.
“Illegal broadcasts of sporting events, films and TV programmes are damaging to the creative industries and put businesses and people’s livelihoods at risk and so we work closely with our members’ to ensure their content is protected and that legitimate customers are not left short changed.”
Sky committed to protecting its customers
Sky head of commercial piracy George Lawson emphasised how seriously the broadcasting giant takes illegal showings of its programmes.
He added: “We 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.”