Licensee ordered to pay over £18,000 for illegally screening Sky Sports

On Monday 20th January 2020, Mr. Thomas Conneely of the Dick Whittington[1] was convicted in his absence of three offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission, in this case, Sky televised football matches, with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.

Mr. Thomas Conneely, the owner of the Dick Whittington, was fined £3,000 per offence. In addition, he was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,787.18 and a victim surcharge of £120 totalling £18,907.18.

FACT brought the criminal prosecution on Monday 20th January 2020 at St Albans Magistrates’ Court against the licensee for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place. Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution.

This is the second conviction for Section 297(1) Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 offences for Mr Conneely, who was previously convicted at Watford Magistrates Court in 2015[2] in relation to offences committed at the Partridge Pub. The Magistrates Court took this into consideration when sentencing him and were mindful that the fines and costs imposed must act as a deterrent to licensees considering committing similar offences.

Stephen Gerrard, FACT’s Prosecuting Manager said “Our aim is to help create an effective deterrent to publicans who endeavour to fraudulently show Sky content on their premises and FACT will continue to protect the intellectual property rights of its clients by pursuing those who continue to break the law”.

George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky, added: “It’s important to us that businesses are aware of the consequences of showing Sky Sports illegally – it is a serious issue that is damaging to the pub industry, and those licensees who choose to televise content in this way should be aware that they are at high risk of being caught and face substantial penalties.

We actively visit thousands of pubs every season to monitor the games they are showing and continue to support FACT’s work to protect hardworking Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity”.

Working with FACT forms a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs and clubs who 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 and visit hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK.

Any licensee affected by these issues can report suspected illegal broadcasting confidentially at www.pubpiracy.com

[1] Prestwick Road, Watford, Herts, WD19 6LH

[2] https://www.fact-uk.org.uk/watford-pub-company-ordered-to-pay-nearly-6000-for-illegal-sky-use/

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