Sky cries foul over pub fee breaches

EIGHTY civil actions are in progress against pubs for failing to pay SKY full commercial rates to screen Premiership matches.

A further 50 cases are being prepared in a crackdown on publicans avoiding Sky payments.

Recently, there have been 25 out-of-court settlements here, with one pub in Killarney handing over €10,000.

New technology launched last weekend will see a tiny pint glass icon known as a “bug” appear on the screen at different times in pubs which are paying the correct rates.

However, if the pint glass image is missing, that means the bar in question is not paying the full commercial rate. If they are caught by Sky field agents, or if a member of the public decides to inform Sky, it could lead to a four-figure fine and possible legal action. A spokesman for Sky said the latest initiative from the Sky Business Division was to “protect legitimate business customers” and had seen a “considerable investment” from the company in the new technology.

“We do have field agents who visit pubs and observe whether Sky Sports is being shown,” he said. “This will help us further in that regard.”

In Britain, Sky’s policing partners are the FACT group, who send agents out to monitor pubs. In Ireland, Sky has an agreement with the Irish Music Rights Organisation (IMRO) to do the same.

Earlier this year, Brady’s bar in Faythe, Co Wexford, was told to pay a fine of €4,759 at a case in Wexford Circuit Court after failing to pay the full commercial rate.

The rate paid by pubs to show matches is down to a number of factors, including size, with large pubs paying up to €4,700 each year in subscriptions.

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