The failure of Virgin Media and UKTV to reach agreement on the carriage dispute between the pair saw the programmer’s 10 channels (including the five free-to-air channels such as Dave) replaced on Virgin TV at 00:01 on July 22nd.
“We are as disappointed as our customers that we have had to replace UKTV’s channels,” commented David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer, Virgin Media. “To be clear: we are ready to restore UKTV’s free channels for our customers immediately with UKTV’s permission. We have been in extensive discussions with UKTV but we have not been able to reach an agreement which reflects the reality of how people are watching television in the 21st Century.”
“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. On top of this, UKTV is unable to provide the extensive on-demand programming which is expected of a modern day broadcaster.”
“We have already replaced UKTV’s channels with a suite of high-quality programming. This includes the Paramount Network with shows like Suits and Designated Survivor; YourTV, a new channel which is home to Castle, Bones and Body of Proof; inclusive access to Premier Sports which has all of the football matches from the International Champions Cup and numerous new box sets available on-demand such as Shades of Blue, Supergirl and Madam Secretary.”
A joint appearance by Bouchier and Steve North, UKTV’s General Manager for Entertainment and Comedy on BBC Breakfast News the following morning to discuss the matter failed to see any progress.
A Tweet from UKTV late on July 22nd said: “Thank you all for your support today and we are truly sorry for those viewers that have been affected by the loss of our channels. We’ll be back online tomorrow to help answer your questions. Until then, goodnight everyone”.