The owners of a Wigan pub have been fined thousands of pounds for illegal screening of satellite TV.
The Brookhouse Inn on City Road, Kitt Green, was made to pay £8,377.77 in penalties and legal costs after an investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact).
It was accused of dishonest reception of a television transmission (a Sky televised football match) without a commercial viewing agreement with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge, contrary to the Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988.
There have been 34 prosecutions brought by FACT this football season alone, bringing total fines and costs paid by licensees across the UK to £149,218. The latest was the largest yet: a conviction resulting in pub company Sheldon Inns Ltd being ordered to pay a record £23,907 in fines and costs for showing Sky Sports illegally in the Castle Inn, Kidderminster.
Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager for Fact, said: “Licensees, employees and associated companies can each face unlimited fines for every offence they commit.
“On top of this, the court can order legal costs to be paid and there is a requirement to inform the local licensing authority of the criminal offence, which can impact their licences: it simply isn’t worth the risk.”
The investigations 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 says it 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. Alison Dolan, deputy managing director of Sky Business, said: “This issue is very close to the hearts of our legitimate Sky pub customers who are being left short-changed by licensees broadcasting Sky content illegally.
“It creates an uneven playing field for their businesses, which is why we are committed to visiting thousands of pubs this season, as well as investigating suppliers and continuing to support Fact’s work.
“These latest convictions demonstrate the potential financial cost to businesses who choose to broadcast matches to which Sky has exclusive rights in the UK without the correct commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.”