FACT secures record £22,600 in fines and costs after conviction for illegal Sky use in pubs

Latest order brings fines & costs awarded since 1st July 2014 to £68,765.57 as part of efforts to protect thousands of law-abiding pubs

The Federation Against Copyright Theft (‘FACT’) has secured a conviction resulting in the licensees of Hogan’s Bar in Doncaster being ordered to pay a record £22,600 in fines and costs for showing Sky Sports illegally. This latest prosecution is the eleventh brought by FACT this season alone, bringing total fines and costs paid by licensees across the UK to £68,765.57.

In this latest case, Simon Barnett and Anthony Ball of Hogan’s Bar alongside Doncaster Balls Limited, were found guilty in their absence on 22nd August at Doncaster Magistrates Court for dishonest reception of a television transmission (a Sky televised football match) without a commercial viewing agreement with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge, contrary to Section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988. The resulting order to pay a combined total of £22,600 in fines and costs sets a new record following a criminal conviction for illegal Sky use in licenced premises.

This latest conviction demonstrates 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. There have been more than 1,500 similar prosecutions to date, hundreds of further cases are in the pipeline and each conviction can result in criminal prosecution, substantial costs and potential loss of licence.

Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager, FACT, said: “We sometimes hear from licensees that they are prepared to risk a fine of around £5,000 for showing Sky Sports illegally, but this case shows that both licensees, employees and associated companies can each face fines of up to £5,000 for every offence they commit, or each match that they show. 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.”

These convictions were carried out by FACT on behalf of its members and form a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs who honestly invest in legitimate Sky Sports subscriptions. The company is committed to visiting every licensed premise reported by other publicans and/or organisations for illegally showing Sky. In total, Sky has made arrangements to visit more than 700 pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this season.

Alison Dolan, Deputy Managing Director, 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.”

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

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