Surrey Pub Company found guilty of illegally showing Sky Sports and ordered to pay out over £120,000

Merlin Inns Ltd and three of their employees plead guilty to a total of 13 offences

A Surrey pub company has been found guilty of illegally airing Sky Sports in three of its pubs and ordered to pay a record £120,600 in fines and costs following an investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Merlin Inns Ltd, based in Cranleigh in Surrey which boasts 14 public houses in the UK, pleaded guilty to 10 offences at Redhill Magistrates Court on Monday 4th April and were fined £90,000 and ordered to pay costs of £28,500.

Three Designated Premises Supervisors (DPS) also pleaded guilty to a total of three offences and were each fined £600 and a victim surcharge of £60 bringing the total to a record £120,600.

The record fine and costs demonstrates the seriousness of this crime and how pub companies as well as individuals can face criminal records and stiff financial penalties for illegally screening matches.

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 more than 700 pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this season.

Stephen Gerrard, Prosecuting Manager at the Federation Against Copyright Theft said “Regrettably for Merlin Inns Ltd they chose to ignore official notices alerting them to their illegal activity and refuse advice to legitimise their behaviour. Now the company is left with a substantial fine and three employees with criminal records.

“This result should serve as a strong warning to any pub company or employee thinking of bypassing the legitimate process to think twice about their actions. It is a criminal offence which the courts, FACT and Sky take incredibly seriously.

“Merlin Inns Ltd have also short changed law-abiding publicans in the area who legitimately pay commercial Sky subscriptions and are potentially losing customers to venues screening matches illegally.”

Alison Dolan, Deputy Managing Director at Sky Business, said: “The significant penalty applied in this case not only demonstrates how seriously the courts take the issue of fraudulently screening TV programmes, but also indicates just how significantly the suppliers of illegal equipment have been misleading publicans.

“Anyone choosing to believe these suppliers, or who has been offered any kind of guarantee from an illegal supplier should take note: these suppliers cannot stop pub companies as well as individuals from getting a criminal record, as this latest result now shows.

“The courts continue to send a clear message to publicans who consider fraudulently screening TV programmes in their venue – if you choose to televise content illegally then you run the very real risk of being caught and face substantial penalties and a criminal record.”

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

Related News

News

Protecting content during the COVID-19 outbreak

Our thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19 during this extraordinary time. In the current circumstances, the demand for online content is set to increase significantly over the coming weeks. Where there is an increase in content consumption, online piracy is significant. At FACT we have over three decades of experience in protecting content for … Continued

News

Criminal convictions for Kodibox sellers

Two men have been sentenced at St Albans Crown Court after being found guilty of selling television devices which enable access to paid for services dishonestly. Thomas Tewelde from Acton, West London and Mohamed Abdou from Tonbridge, Kings Cross have each been sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment, suspended for two years. They must pay £1000 … Continued

News

Seller of illicit streaming devices ordered to pay over £500,000

A criminal found guilty of supplying illegal streaming devices (ISDs) providing unauthorised access to Premier League content has been ordered to pay back more than £520,000, to the ‘public purse’. In April 2018, John Dodds was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison having pleaded guilty to a conspiracy to defraud. Dodds sold ISDs to hundreds … Continued

News

Seller of illegal streaming services ordered to pay over £10,000

A man has received a 16-month prison sentence and has been ordered to pay over £10,000 after he pleaded guilty to five offences at Merthyr Tydfil Magistrates Court. In 2019 the National Trading Standards Investigation Team (Wales) led a project, partnered with FACT, to investigate TV boxes available for sale online by Wales-based traders. As … Continued