PROSECUTORS have warned publicans of the ‘substantial costs’ for broadcasting illegal TV transmissions, after a licensee was fined more than £8,000 for showing Sky Sports.

At Bolton Magistrates' Court on Monday, October 9, Eric Hoyle of the Summit Pub in Heywood was found guilty in his absence of three offences of dishonest reception of a television transmission, after showing Sky Sports to customers without having a valid commercial agreement from the broadcaster.

The prosecution was brought by the Federation against Copyright Theft (FACT).

Stephen Gerrard, prosecuting manager for 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.”

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.

George Lawson, head of commercial piracy at Sky, added: “We take illegal use of our programming very seriously and remain committed to protecting our legitimate Sky customers who are unfairly losing business due to this illegal activity.

“Those licensees who choose to televise content illegally should be aware that they are at high risk of being caught and face substantial penalties and a criminal conviction. The only legal way to show Sky Sports programming in licensed premises in the UK is via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky.”

Eric Hoyle was fined £2,000 per offence, ordered to pay a £120 victim surcharge and costs of £2,116.80, totalling £8,236.80.

Sky has made arrangements to visit hundreds of pubs each week in towns and cities across the UK this year.