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 Content

News

Major illegal streaming network dismantled by West Midlands Police operation

Top UK content provider targeted by police raids Suspects, who were allegedly providing illegal access to content to more than 100 separate pirate TV services, were arrested at the scene Hundreds of thousands of customers have their services replaced by police message Three people have been arrested and a major illegal streaming network has been … Continued

News

FACT and Sky Highlight Dangers of Illegal Streaming to Licensees

With the football season back in full swing, Sky and FACT are working together to warn licensees of the dangers of unscrupulous suppliers who may be approaching them with low-cost, but illegal, ways of showing sport in their premises. Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT warns of the risk businesses are taking when they engage with … Continued

News

Suppliers of illegal streaming services targeted in UK-wide FACT initiative

In the past week FACT investigators and police officers from Eastern Region Special Operations Unit, West Yorkshire Police and Dyfed-Powys Police have visited addresses across the UK to serve Cease and Desist notices to individuals suspected of supplying illegal streaming services. The initiative is aimed at preventing the illegal supply of IPTV streams, with investigators … Continued

Arrests News

Illegal streaming service shut down and man arrested

A West Mercia police operation working closely with FACT have arrested a man in Shrewsbury in connection with suspected illegal streaming of premium television channels, and other copyrighted material. A 56 year old man was arrested under section 44 of the Serious Crime Act and Section 11 of the Fraud Act on suspicion of facilitating … Continued