Pubs Smashed with £120,000 Fine for Showing the Football

By Gary Cutlack on at

The operator of a group of pubs based in Surrey has been hit with a massive fine for showing Sky's sporting coverage illegally, with owner Merlin Inns pleading guilty to ten counts of sticking on the football without first paying the satellite broadcaster for the right to do so.

Merlin was fined £90,000 and made to pay costs of £28,500, so it presumably made a loss on the deal no matter how many additional pints and packets of McCoy's Flame Grilled Steak flavour crisps it shifted as a result of the unlicensed screenings.

Sky and the Federation Against Copyright Theft collaborated to get the prosecution, with Alison Dolan from Sky Business saying of the successful case: "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."

The three individual employees lumped with the blame for enabling the screenings were also found guilty, handed fines and costs totalling £660 each for their part in the modern media crime. [BBC]

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