From midnight yesterday channels including Dave, Gold, Alibi, Drama, and Eden were removed and replaced with the Virgin Media electronic programme guide (EPG), with UKTV content also withdrawn from its on-demand and Virgin TV Go services.
The 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.
Virgin Media said in a statement that it is still in discussions with UKTV but has already invested in an “extensive collection of new and high-quality programming” – including Paramount Network HD, YourTV, Love Nature and IQTV.
People have taken to social media to air their views on the changes, most people are very unhappy about loosing channels
@virginmedia absolutely appalled at the lack of communication between you and your customers. Just found out that we are going to lose 10 channels from our current package, with absolutely no prior warning. Shall be looking at packages with @SkyUK tonight.
— Kat (@kitkatharlow) July 22, 2018
Virgin Media’s Twitter account today posted a plea directly to UKTV to ”#SaveDave”.
— Virgin Media (@virginmedia) July 22, 2018