THE Observatory Hotel, in Blackburn, has been caught without a TV licence and told to pay £1,300.

The pub, in Old Bank Lane, was ordered to pay £1,000 by magistrates, the maximum possible fine, plus £200 court costs and a £100 victim surcharge, at a hearing at Blackburn Magistrates’ Court.

The fine was issued to Observatory Limited, a company which ran the pub, close to Royal Blackburn Hospital, up until four months ago when it was taken over by Rainbow Leisure Limited, who also installed new land-lord, Colin Foulkes.

The law states that any business that shows television, as it is being broad-cast, whether for customers’ use, or in staff areas, must be covered by a valid TV licence and if there is living accommodation on the premises where a TV is also in use, this must be covered by a separate licence.

Jenny Murphy, TV Lic-ensing spokesperson for the North, said: “We appr-eciate these are tough times for businesses but, to be fair to the majority who do pay the licence fee, we have to take action against those who watch TV illegally. We’d rather businesses think ahead and check if they need a lic- ence than risk being prosecuted.”

Sean Philburn, managing director of Rainbow Leisure Limited, said: “This fine was given to the previous tenant and I can confidently say that we have a TV licence and that it is paid each month by direct debit.

“We have only run this pub for four months and so it was nothing to do with us.

“We have a large screen TV to show football mat-ches on etc, and have three smaller televisions in the pub.”

A spokesperson for Thwaites brewery, which owns the pub, said: “We work closely with all our licensees to support them in the running of their business but, ultimately, the responsibility for the day-to-day running of the pub lies with them as individual entrepreneurs.

“In the past few months, new licensees have taken over the running of the Observatory and they are unconnected to this matter.”