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Is Lord Sugar promoting an illegal streaming site?

Lord Sugar, the former chairman of YouView, appears to be promoting use of a TV streaming service that could be illegal. 

UK TV Everywhere is a TV streaming service based in Chicago, US that offers access to packages of popular British channels including BBC One and ITV2 for as little as $25 (£16)/month. 

Presumably aimed at British expats living Stateside, the UK TV Everywhere service includes a set-top box that requires an internet connection speed of 4Mbps to work, along with HD streams and automatic recording in the Cloud. 

UK TV Everywhere. An impressive service? Yes. Legal? Maybe.

Today Lord Sugar tweeted: “British abroad you need to get this TV box it delivers UK TV worldwide. I have used it for 4 months like being in UK” – along with a link to the UK TV Everywhere site.

While we don’t think that Lord Sugar is intentionally promoting an illegal service, after going over the UK TV Everywhere site we can’t find any legal disclaimer or notice to the effect that they’ve got permission to re-broadcast content from the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 or UKTV.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently ruled that streaming sites and services require explicit permission from content owners to re-broadcast programmes.

Popular site TVCatchUp.com is currently embroiled in a court case with ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 over just this question.

The ECJ’s jurisdiction doesn’t extend beyond Europe, so a purely US-based company might be impervious – but we can’t see how UK TV Everywhere can stream Freeview without a site in the UK to receive it and convert it to a video stream.

An instruction manual reveals that they’ve got engineers based in the UK: “The streams your UKTV box receives come from a massive 10GB feed based out of Chicago, USA.

We have a 99.95 per cent uptime on our feeds. If your box is experiencing freezing, then there is a 0.05 per cent chance that it is a problem with our system. Our engineers monitor our feeds 24 hours a day from both the UK and the USA.”

We’ve asked UK TV Everywhere for comment and we’re waiting to hear back.

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