Pubs Face Court for Illegally Showing Football Matches

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By George Hopkin on 27.2.2024

Pubs Face Court for Illegally Showing Football Matches

There are thousands of pub landlords that are now facing heavy fines and possible conviction through screening football matches illegally by way of overseas broadcasters. BSkyB, who own the majority of the live football screening rights in Britain, and the Premier League have decided to come down heavily on landlords that persist in evading broadcasting laws.

What pubs are keen to do is to avoid paying large amounts of money for live football rights when they can buy them for a much lower price from broadcasting companies that are based in other countries. This requires pubs to buy non-UK decoders for their televisions that enable them to screen the matches via Arabic channels, for example, and it requires them to break the law of this country.

Recently an Essex public house proprietor was convicted and ordered to pay £19,000 in fines after being accused of six cases of dishonest broadcasting and of breaking Premier League copyright laws.

Karen Murphy, a landlady from Portsmouth, took her case to the European Court of Justice after she was prosecuted due to using a Greek decoder for Premier League fixtures. That seems to be a largely futile battle, even though she has had initial and minor successes, as a High Court ruling has declared that pubs violate serious copyright rules when they logos, anthems, and live games that they have not properly acquired the rights for.

In another development, Wolverhampton Wanderers FC owner Jez Moxey last year asked that pubs in the Midlands respect laws considering broadcasting. The illegal showing of Wolves games meant that the club was actually selling fewer tickets.

A Sky subscription costs £480 for public establishments per month, but the ones from abroad are much cheaper with prices charged from £100-200. In a time of recession pubs say that they are simply trying to stay alive and that Sky is selfishly trying to bleed them dry.

However Sky could be perceived to be on a moral high ground of just trying to conduct honest business; they pay ever-so-much to acquire broadcasting rights from the Premier League, and see it as unjust that pubs should break the law in order to get the cheapest deal for themselves. With the High Court seemingly on the company’s side, it looks as if Sky will the accused pub landlords.


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