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UKTV channels leave Virgin platforms as deadlock continues

UKTV’s portfolio of 10 channels have been removed from Virgin Media’s platform and the two parties are still in deadlock after failing to agree terms of a new carriage deal.

Around four million Virgin Media households are affected by the blackout of channels, which include Dave, Alibi, Drama, Gold and Eden. Thousands of hours of UKTV content has also been removed from Virgin’s on-demand and Virgin TV Go services.

“We’re hugely disappointed for the many customers who are losing out because our channels are no longer available through Virgin Media,” said UKTV CEO Darren Childs in a statement released yesterday.

“We completely understand their frustration and would love to continue to bring them the shows and channels that they’re so passionate about, but we need a fair price to support our growing investment in programmes. The reality is that we just can’t accept the drastic price cut that Virgin wants.”

Virgin Media’s chief digital entertainment officer, David Bouchier, said in a statement: “We are as disappointed as our customers that we have had to replace UKTV’s channels. To be clear: we are ready to restore UKTV’s free channels for our customers immediately with UKTV’s permission.”

Virgin last week 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 “huge cut in the fees paid to UKTV.” as part of the companies’ contract discussions.

With UKTV’s channels no longer on the Virgin platform, the Liberty Global-owned pay TV operator has filled their electronic programming guide slots a mix of channels that are either new to Virgin or were previously placed elsewhere on the EPG.

Among the new channels are Vice TV, Paramount Network and Fox Networks Group UK-owned Premier Sports, which all joined the Virgin platform over the weekend. Two channels operated by Blue Ant Media – Love Nature HD and ZooMoo HD – were also added.

All of these channel launches were announced individually by Virgin with channel numbers separate to those occupied by UKTV’s channels – apart from Premier Sports, which Virgin said will be on channel 551 and “temporarily on 127,” indicating an agreement is still likely to be reached between Virgin and UKTV.

For the time being, a full list of UKTV’s former channel slots and their replacement channels can be found here.