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Virgin Media loses popular UKTV channels

Written by  Jul 23, 2018

Virgin Media customers can no longer watch UKTV channels in a dispute over fees.

The affected channels include Dave and Gold as well as several others including Alibi and Eden. Naturally, both sides are blaming each other. Normally these situations are resolved after a brief period.

UKTV has posted a tweet with a video message from UKTV's Steve North saying that Virgin were proposing to pay "significantly less" for the channels than they have been.

We’ve worked with @virginmedia since its launch in 2006. We’re so sorry for any viewers who are missing our channels, but we couldn’t afford to take such a huge pay cut. We are still available on @SkyUK, @BT_UK, @FreeviewTV, @Freesat_TV, @TalkTalkTV and @NOWTV. pic.twitter.com/FRnghOs72u

— Official UKTV (@UKTV) July 21, 2018


UKTV says its services are still available on Sky, BT, Freeview, Freesat, TalkTalk and Now TV.

But that's part of the problem. Dave and several other UKTV channels are freely available over Freeview and Freesat and so Virgin is encouraging viewers to ask UKTV why it has removed these channels in addition to other services which are paid-for.

It's unclear whether Virgin has to pay for the channels that are free elsewhere, or whether the dispute is solely over the pay TV channels but UKTV was so incensed it decided to remove the lot.

We want to keep UKTV’s free channels, like Dave, on Virgin TV.
These channels are freely available over the air and on the internet, but UKTV has decided to cut off Virgin Media customers.
Join us in asking @UKTV why… pic.twitter.com/nQLr6F2bR1

— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) July 21, 2018


Predictably, Virgin makes it sound like it's actually UKTV that is asking for more money rather than Virgin offering to pay less:

"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," said David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media.

"On top of this, UKTV is unable to provide the extensive on-demand programming which is expected of a modern day broadcaster."


That latter point is because UKTV doesn't provide programmes on demand. That's because the majority of UKTV programming comes from the BBC which is notoriously protective over its older content - traditionally it has wanted to encourage people interested in, say, an old series of Only Fools and Horses to buy it on DVD.

Although it makes certain series available for streaming through premium services, the BBC still hasn't solved the issue of providing all its older premium content digitally - it canned BBC Store - an iPlayer where you paid for the content - last November.

Virgin says it has replaced the programming with more channels including Paramount Network with Suits and Designated Survivor; YourTV, a new channel home to Castle, Bones and Body of Proof; Premier Sports which offers the International Champions Cup football. There are also new box sets available on-demand, according to Virgin.

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