The crackdown on those who view premium content without a subscription continues to intensify.
Earlier this week a licensee from Liverpool was found guilty of four offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission by showing Sky Sports to customers without a commercial agreement from Sky.
Carl Furlong and Peter Scully of the Park Hotel in Liverpool, Merseyside, were originally found guilty of four offences and were ordered to pay a combined total of £14,810 in fines and costs on 5th October 2017.
Mr Furlong made a statutory declaration in November 2017 and the case was reopened, he entered a plea of Not Guilty to all offences but failed to appear at court.
The court decided to prove the matter in his absence instead of further adjourning the case and he was fined a total of £18,425.
The conviction against Mr Scully obtained in October 2017 still stands which makes the grand total fines and costs for this case £19,671.
FACT brought the criminal prosecution on Monday 12th February 2017 at Liverpool Magistrates Court against the licensees for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place.
Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.
Licensees that show Sky broadcasts without a commercial viewing agreement risk similar action or even a criminal prosecution.
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.”
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”.
This latest news comes as UEFA has announced a major clampdown on illegal streams of the Champions League.
The high court order to instantly block streams was gained late last year and it comes into force this week.
Speaking about the new block, Detective Sergeant Kevin Ives, from the City of London Police’s Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said: “Now that the Premier League and UEFA have both secured high court blocking orders allowing them to shut off illegal streams at source, it has made it more difficult for the public to find illegal streams of premium sport online.
“This is just one of many developments that have made it much more difficult for those who try to watch sport illegally online.
“Consumers are putting themselves at unnecessary risk of fraud by purchasing and using illegal streaming boxes, even more so if the content they try and watch is being effectively blocked.”