UKTV channels set to disappear from Virgin Media as renewal talks stall

'Taskmaster' on Dave: among 10 UKTV channels set to come off Virgin Media
'Taskmaster' on Dave: among 10 UKTV channels set to come off Virgin Media

UKTV and Virgin Media are making preparations for the former's channels to disappear from the latter's platform this Sunday in a spot of brinkmanship amid negotiations over renewing their carriage deal.

Virgin Media has begun informing customers that all UKTV channels and programming will be replaced by other content, while UKTV has publicly warned that the channels will no longer be available.

Discussions remain ongoing, but there are two bones of contention. UKTV believes Virgin Media’s renewal bid offers too little money while Virgin Media is unhappy that UKTV will not provide a full set of on-demand rights, such as to the BBC back catalogue, some of which is available on rival services like Netflix. 

Darren Childs, chief executive of UKTV, said: "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 ten UKTV channels in question are a mix of free-to-air and paid, and comprise Alibi, Gold, W, Eden, Good Food, Dave, Yesterday, Drama, Really and Home.

David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media, said: "Viewing behaviours among 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.

"Unfortunately, due to the restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC, UKTV is not able to provide the significant on-demand programming that we know our customers want."

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