SBC News SIS takes Ireland’s AlphaBet to court for broadcast rights ‘signal theft’

SIS takes Ireland’s AlphaBet to court for broadcast rights ‘signal theft’

SIS (Sports Information Services) is involved in a legal battle with an independent Irish bookmaker, focused around broadcasting rights.

The news was broken yesterday by The Irish Times (IT), which reported that SIS Media Ltd, – the Republic of Ireland division of the wider SIS Group – is in the process of suing AlphaBet over broadcasting rights. 

According to SIS, AlphaBet – owned by father and daughter John and Laura Celine Patton – used its horse racing and betting content feed services across its five betting shops between 2009 and 2017.

However, the sports betting content distributor – based in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire – terminated its contract with the Patton family business, alleging non-payment of €40,000 in broadcast rights fees.

After reaching out to SIS, SBC News was able to obtain the company’s official statement on the matter, which cited cross-industry ramifications of sports media copyright violations by operators.

“Bookmakers who engage in signal theft deprive the sports they broadcast of media rights income. It is both illegal and damaging to those sports and our reputation as an industry,” the statement read

“SIS is thoroughly committed to protecting the future viability of horse racing and will not hesitate to take action to protect its customers and content rights partners when and where necessary.”

SIS currently delivers sports betting and horse racing content to licensed betting offices (LBOs) throughout the UK and Ireland in partnership with Racecourse Media Group (RMG), under a contract in place until 31 March 2026.

According to IT, SIS warned the Pattons after it was found that three AlphaBet were continuing to show broadcasts via the SIS One and SIS Two channels, which the firm uses to distribute its horse racing and sports content in Ireland.

SIS stepped up its actions in September last year, objecting to the renewal of John Patton’s betting licence, and the Gardai – Ireland’s police force – stated that it would begin enquiries into the matter. 

The Pattons have represented themselves in court, stating that they do not have the finances to hire a lawyer, or pay for any damages or legal costs that might be incurred as a result of the SIS suit.

John Patton informed the court that Laura is now the licence holder for AlphaBet, and that SIS has “refused to engage with my daughter and are effectively shutting us out of business”.

He added that his company had offered to stop showing the SIS One and Two channels in its shops, but that SIS then “came here with a whole fishing list” of additional demands that they could not meet for reasons including GDPR, according to IT. 

The news comes ahead of the launch of a new Irish gambling regulator, expected in early 2023, which could bring about greater oversight and clarity on legal disputes between bookmakers and suppliers such as this.

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