UKTV channels removed from Virgin Media as broadcasters clash on pricing

By John McCarthy | Media editor



Future of TV article

July 22, 2018 | 6 min read

Around four million Virgin Media customers have found that they can no longer access UKTV's suite of channels following a pricing dispute between the companies.

Following a negotiation period, Virgin Media said that UKTV's asking price was too high - and it wouldn't open up its content to on demand viewing. Meanwhile UKTV has hit out at what it claims is a drastic price reduction from the Pay TV provider.


UKTV's channels now absent from Virgin Media

UKTV runs Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday on free-to-air platforms whereas W, Good Food, Eden, Alibi and Gold run on paid-for services like Sky, BT, Freeview, Freesat, TalkTalkTV and NowTV.

The channels were taken down on Saturday 21 July at midnight, with viewers instead to be sated with the addition of new channels Paramount Network, IQTV and FreeSports.

Steve North, general manager genre general manager for UKTV's Comedy and Entertainment channels, ran a promoted Twitter video to get the word out about the state of affairs.

The group urged Virgin Media customers to pressure the Pay TV provider to up its bid and reclaim the channels. UKTV shared tweets and comments condemning Virgin Media.

Meanwhile, David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer of Virgin Media, said: “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.

“We have been in extensive discussions with UKTV but we have not been able to reach an agreement which reflects the reality of how people are watching television in the 21st Century. “UKTV is insisting on holding back its channels, like Dave, which are freely available over the air and online, unless we pay inflated sums of money for its paid channels like Gold. On top of this, UKTV is unable to provide the extensive on-demand programming which is expected of a modern day broadcaster.

“We have already replaced UKTV’s channels with a suite of high-quality programming. This includes the Paramount Network with shows like Suits and Designated Survivor; YourTV, a new channel which is home to Castle, Bones and Body of Proof; inclusive access to Premier Sports which has all of the football matches from the International Champions Cup and numerous new box sets available on-demand such as Shades of Blue, Supergirl and Madam Secretary.”

UKTV Play is UKTV's VOD service, it would rather bolster traffic visiting its bespoke service and receive a manageable bid for its premium linear offerings. While UKTV piles into Virgin to up its offering, Virgin is urging UKTV to 'save' itself and bow to its terms. It is likely one of the more public TV negotiations there have been in recent years.


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