OPERATORS thinking of subscribing to Sky in light of the broadcaster’s latest discounts have more to think about than whether they can afford it, or where to put the screen.
For if the box marked televised sport is not ticked in their operating plan then a major variation of their premises licence is required.
The prospect of Sky becoming accessible to a higher number of licensed businesses was raised last month when the broadcaster announced deeper discounts for food-led operators and venues in remote locations.
The company said its amended structure would make its prices better value for money for businesses like restaurants and gastro pubs, whose trade isn’t founded on sport.
But a lawyer has urged operators to seek legal advice before signing up.
Frances Ennis, senior solicitor at law firm McGrigors, told SLTN that operators subscribing to Sky for the first time are likely to have to apply to their local board for a major variation of their premises licence.
And not only can the process be lengthy, she warned, it also comes at a cost.
“It’s a regular issue with clients – something seemingly innocuous crops up in a liquor licence and it runs and runs,” Ennis said. “What on the face of it looks like a cost-saving exercise can end up being a much larger investment.
“The licence outlines the range of activities you can and can’t do on the premises, including those relevant to sport like group meetings and darts.
“If you haven’t said yes in the box next to televised sport – and a lot of food-led operators may not have – then you have to apply for a major variation.”
Ennis explained that most boards charge around £200 to administer such applications, with operators also facing a solicitors fee on top; the process can take up to six months.
If an operator signs up to Sky without applying to vary their licence, Ennis said some LSOs would simply tell them to switch if off until the application is successfully made; in the worst case scenario it could spark a licence review.