On Wednesday, 1 February 2023, Clinton Hartland of The Watering Trough in Walsall, West Midlands was found guilty in his absence of two offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission. In this case, Hartland televised Sky Sports football matches, with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable commercial subscription charge. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.
Hartland, the designated premises supervisor of The Watering Trough was ordered to pay total fines and costs of £8,030.78.
FACT brought the criminal prosecution at Dudley Magistrates Court against the licensee, for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place. Business premises that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action, or even civil legal action.
Kieron Sharp, FACT Chief Executive, said “Our aim is to help create an effective deterrent to licensees who endeavour to fraudulently show Sky content in their premises, and FACT will continue to protect the intellectual property rights of its clients by pursuing those who continue to break the law”.
Sara Stewart, Commercial Compliance Lead at Sky Business, added: “Now, more than ever, it is important that we protect the investment of our customers. Businesses that choose to show Sky Sports illegally are directly impacting our legitimate customers’, who unfairly lose business to these venues.
We are committed to pursuing those televising content illegally, and actively visit thousands of pubs every season to monitor misuse. Those found in breach of Sky’s copyright will be held accountable – and may face substantial penalties, including losing their personal licence.”
Working with FACT is a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs and clubs that 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.
Any licensee affected by these issues can report suspected illegal broadcasting confidentially at www.pubpiracy.com