Pub ordered to pay over £9,000 for illegal Sky use

Following successful prosecutions by FACT, The licensees of The Owls Nest[1] in St. Helens and The Clock[2] in Liverpool have each been convicted and ordered to pay a combined total of more than £9,000 in fines and costs for showing Sky Sports illegally in their premises.

On 16th February 2017 at Liverpool & Knowsley Magistrates Court, Debra Jane Cunningham and John Walker of The Owls Nest were each convicted in absence to four offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission (a Sky televised football match) at the above licensed premises with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge. This is contrary to Section 297 (1) of the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988. In addition to receiving a criminal conviction, Ms. Cunningham and Mr. Walker were ordered to pay a total of £5,072 in fines and costs.

In a separate case at Liverpool & Knowsley Magistrates Court, Michael Manning of The Clock was also prosecuted by FACT for screening Sky Sports without the correct commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business in place. Mr. Manning was ordered to pay a total of £4,436 in fines and costs for illegally showing Sky in the premises.

Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager, FACT said “These cases should send a clear warning to pub owners and licensees who show Sky broadcasts without a commercial subscription. If 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 puts 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.”

These convictions were carried out by FACT on behalf of its members and forms a key part of Sky’s commitment to protecting pubs 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 will visit hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this season.

George Lawson, Head of Commercial Piracy at Sky, added: “We take illegal use of our programming very seriously and 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”.

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

[1] The Owls Nest, West End Road, Haydock, St. Helens, Merseyside, WA11 0AQ

[2] The Clock, 110 High Street, Wavertree, Liverpool, L15 8JS

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