The owner of a Watford pub has been ordered to pay costs of over £18,000 after illegally screening Sky Sports on three occasions.
On Monday, January 20, Thomas Conneely, owner of The Dick Whittington, South Oxhey, was convicted in his absence of three offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission, in this case, Sky televised football matches, with the intent to avoid payment of the applicable charge.
Mr Conneely was fined £3,000 per offence. In addition, he was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £9,787.18 and a victim surcharge of £120 totalling £18,907.18.
FACT brought the criminal prosecution at St Albans Magistrates Court against the licensee for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place.
This is the second conviction for Section 297(1) Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 offences for Mr Conneely, who was previously convicted at Watford Magistrates Court in 2015 in relation to offences committed at the Partridge Pub.
The Magistrates Court took this into consideration when sentencing him and were mindful that the fines and costs imposed must act as a deterrent to licensees considering committing similar offences.
Stephen Gerrard, FACT’s prosecuting manager, said: “Our aim is to help create an effective deterrent to publicans who endeavour to fraudulently show Sky content on their premises and FACT will continue to protect the intellectual property rights of its clients by pursuing those who continue to break the law.”
George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky, said: “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.”
Chairman of the Licensing Committee, Cllr Martin Trevett, added: “Sky actively visit thousands of pubs every season to monitor the games they are showing and continue to support FACT’s work to protect their customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity. We will continue to support and assist them so we can stop people from abusing the law.”