The portfolio of channels owned by UKTV, the commercial broadcaster, will soon cease to be available to customers of Virgin Media, the biggest cable operator in the UK and Ireland, if the two companies fail to reach agreement over a new distribution contract.
In discussions over a new contract, the two companies have so far been unable to reach an agreement after Virgin Media requested a significant cut in the fees that it pays to UKTV. The existing agreement will expire at midnight on Saturday 21 July. Without a new agreement, UKTV's ten channels, including Dave, Gold, Alibi and Drama will no longer be available on the Virgin Media platform.
The proposed price cut comes despite UKTV's offer to provide additional value to Virgin Media and its customers. As part of a new deal, the broadcaster is proposing to offer Virgin Media an increased range of on demand catch-up and boxsets, enhanced distribution rights, and an additional channel, Gold HD.
Darren Childs, Chief Executive of UKTV, said,
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. UKTV's channels account for over a quarter of pay entertainment channel viewing within Virgin Media's basic subscription pack, while our on demand viewing has grown by over a third in the last year. The money we receive from platforms helps to pay for our record investment in high-quality programmes, which we increased to more than £150 million in the last year. 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.
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