Virgin Media is set to drop UKTV’s portfolio of 10 channels from its platform in the UK and Ireland in a dispute over carriage fees and terms.
From midnight on Saturday July 21 channels including Dave, Gold, Alibi, Drama, and Eden are due to be replaced on the Virgin Media electronic programme guide (EPG), with UKTV content to also be withdrawn from its on-demand and Virgin TV Go services.
Virgin Media said in a statement that it is still in discussions with UKTV but has already invested in an “extensive collection of new and high-quality programming” – including Paramount Network HD, YourTV, Love Nature and IQTV.
It blamed the spat on “restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC,” claiming the broadcaster – which is a joint venture between BBC Studios and Discovery – is “not able to provide the significant on-demand programming that we know our customers want.”
UKTV, on the other hand, said that Virgin Media has requested a “significant cut in the fees that it pays to UKTV” as part of the companies’ contract discussions – despite it offering to provide “additional value to Virgin Media and its customers”.
“We want to continue to provide our channels to Virgin Media, but the huge cut in fees that Virgin has requested doesn’t reflect the value we bring to customers,” said UKTV chief executive, Darren Childs.
“If our 10 channels, including Dave, W, Gold and Alibi, are no longer available through Virgin, we will be hugely disappointed for the millions of customers who will lose out. We’ll keep working with other platforms to bring viewers the drama, comedy and documentaries they love.”
Virgin Media’s chief digital entertainment officer, David Bouchier, said: “Virgin Media has had a long relationship with UKTV, but viewing behaviours amongst our customers are changing and we are committed to investing in the kind of programming they want to watch, whenever and however they want to watch it.”
The channels affected by the dispute are Drama, Really, Yesterday, Home, Gold, W, Alibi, Dave, Eden and Good Food, including their +1 and HD channels. Virgin has published a full list of the UKTV channels’ EPG numbers and details of which channels will replace them in these slots.
Among the changes: Paramount Network HD is due to replace Gold on channel 124; Lifetime SD is set to replace W on channel 125; True Entertainment will replace Alibi on channel 126; and Premier Sports HD will replace Dave on channel 127.
Virgin TV announced yesterday that it is adding Fox Networks Group UK’s YourTV to its platform and will be available to all customers. The channel will air US drama, true crime documentaries and real-life stories and is slated to replace Drama on channel 128.