Virgin Media study brands retrans fees a ‘bad idea’

Tom Mockridge

Tom Mockridge

A study by Virgin Media found that 72% of people thought proposals to introduce pay TV retransmission fees to carry ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 would be a “bad idea.”

Virgin Media, which stands to pay the fees should the government introduce new legislation, said that after “reading more” 73% of the people it surveyed thought the plans for retransmission fees would amount to “a new tax on watching TV.”

Some 77% of the 2,001 people involved in the partisan survey said they believed pay TV providers would cover the retransmission charge by raising the price of TV packages, while 77% said they would prefer the three terrestrial networks to keep their current EPG positions – under threat of being shunted up pay TV providers’ programming guides should they have to start paying to carry the channels.

“Retransmission fees are just a fancy term for a TV tax – a tax on programming that people already pay for through their subscriptions and through the large amounts of advertising they see between programmes,” said Virgin Media CEO Tom Mockridge.

Earlier this year the UK Government held a public consultation on plans to introduce the fees, with a decision expected at the end of the year.

UK broadcast regulator Ofcom said in its latest public service broadcaster (PSB) review in July that making pay TV platforms pay the PSBs for carrying their channels would bring the broadcasters additional funding, but risks bringing about a new regime that would require more regulation.

Last year analysts claimed that retransmission fees would add about £1.5 billion (€1.88 billion) to the value of ITV, with the broadcaster launching a lobbying effort for the introduction  of the fees – backed by Channel 4.