Surrey pub firm hit with record payout for illegally showing Sky Sports

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser

AN EFFINGHAM pub is one of three charged with illegally showing Sky Sports – and the owners have been hit with a record payout

By ChrisMadden  |  Posted: April 05, 2016

FINED: Three Surrey pubs were caught illegally showing Sky Sports matches

Surrey pub company Merlin Inns Ltd was ordered to pay £120,600 at Redhill Magistrates’ Court yesterday after pleading guilty to 10 offences across three establishments. The firm was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £28,500 costs

The pubs in question, where Sky Sports was shown without a legitimate subscription, were the Sir Douglas Haig, The Street, Effingham; The Cranley Hotel, The Common, Cranleigh and The Three Horseshoes, Sunbury Road, Feltham.

The designated premises supervisors at each pub also pleaded guilty to a total of three offences and were each fined £600 and a victim surcharge of £60.

The cases were brought following an investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact).

Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager Fact, said: “Regrettably for Merlin Inns Ltd they choose 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 pubs in the area who legitimately pay commercial Sky subscriptions and are potentially losing customers to venues screening matches illegally.”

Sky visits about 700 pubs per week to check licensed premises have the appropriate subscription to show Sky Sports matches.

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.”

Visit http://business.sky.com/fighting-fraud to report illegal showings.

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