WITH the rugby’s Six Nations championship getting underway this weekend TV Licensing is advising publicans to avoid getting their own penalty.

They are being urged to check they are correctly covered by a TV licence if they plan to show live matches.

Rugby fans across Wales will pack into pubs over the course of five weekends to watch the home nations in action, starting this Saturday, February 1.

TV Licensing is warning that its visiting officers will be touring unlicensed venues throughout the tournament.

Fans in the UK can catch all the action on BBC and ITV, whilst in Wales, games will also be shown on S4C.

Businesses need to be covered by a valid licence if staff, customers or visitors watch or record live programmes on any TV channel or service (including online), or download or watch BBC programmes on iPlayer. This applies to any device provided by the business.

Those found to be showing live games without a valid licence could end up in the sin bin as they run the risk of a court prosecution and fine of up to £1,000 per offence, plus costs.

In the last three years, TV Licensing enquiry officers visited more than 44,0001 businesses across the UK, including pubs, takeaway restaurants and sports clubs, to confirm if they were correctly licensed.

A TV licence costs £154.50 and can be purchased in minutes via an online form at www.tvlicensing.co.uk/businessinfo or by calling the TV Licensing business team on 0300 790 6112.

Spokesperson for TV Licensing in Wales, Ellen Leach-Hutchings, said: “The Six Nations is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar, with many fans choosing to catch the live action at a local pub with friends.

“The majority of pubs are correctly licensed to show live sport for their customers and we’ll be dropping in on establishments that we know are not, so our advice to landlords is to check whether they’re covered rather than risk being caught red-handed.”

Steven Alton, Chief Operating Officer of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), the leading professional body for UK’s licensees, said: “Watching sport in the pub is a great British tradition, and we are sure the Six Nations will prove no different. However, together with TV Licensing, we always like to remind licensees that they must have a current TV licence in order to publicly show live sport legally.”