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TBI Weekly: Virgin Media’s potential channel wipeout

This week, Virgin Media’s carriage disputes with content providers dominated the conversation in the TV industry.

A small spat between UKTV and the service provider has gained momentum after the two companies failed to reach an agreement on how much Virgin should be paying for UKTV’s portfolio of ten channels.

As a result, channels such as Dave, Gold, Alibi, Drama and Eden have not had a presence on Virgin since July 21.

Research from Kantar TNS has shown that 43% of Virgin Media customers say they are more likely to cancel their subscription as a result of the loss of these channels in the next three months.

Virgin has blamed “restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC”, which do not allow it to provide ‘significant on-demand programming’ on the service. UKTV is a joint venture between BBC Studios and Discovery.

UKTV, on the other hand, says it’s all down to a significant cut in fees it received from the service provider.

The spat continues to heat up as Virgin Media has now begun the process to find new channels to potentially replace UKTV. If the two companies fail to reach agreement, the next step will be to issue a request to channels that have expressed interest.

Today, there were also reports that ITV has written a formal letter to Virgin, warning that it could remove its channels if a new agreement cannot be reached.

ITV also threatened a channel black-out this time last year, but it was ultimately delayed on the arrival of Carolyn McCall as CEO. If the move were to go through, viewers face losing access to titles such as Coronation Street and Love Island (pictured).

While carriage disputes are not a new phenomenon, it’s interesting to see how the rise of on-demand programming is impacting these decisions today.

Also in the news…

Electric Ray’s Britain in Bloom is set to return for a second season on BBC Two

Channel 4 is set to launch a brand new three-part drama anthology across one night this August collectively titled On The Edge

Lithuania’s LNK has commissioned Curvy Supermodel from Armoza Formats

Sesame Workshop and Nelvana kids’ title Esme & Roy is set to launch on HBO US on August 18, marking the first animated series coming from the Sesame Street makers in over a decade

Simplestream has appointed Fabio Gallo as sales director for EMEA to drive its sports portfolio

The week’s top TBI stories…