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Now ITV Threatens to Pull TV Channels from Virgin Media UPDATE

Friday, July 27th, 2018 (10:55 am) - Score 8,618

Cable TV and broadband operator Virgin Media UK is facing somewhat of a double kick in the balls this week. After failing to reach a deal to keep the popular UKTV channels (here), it’s now emerged that ITV are allegedly also threatening to pull their channels from the platform (possibly as early as this weekend).

Officially the line from Virgin Media is that they’re having “constructive discussions” with ITV and all of the channels “remain live on Virgin TV and we have no intention of removing them,” although behind the scenes ITV is reported to have sent a letter that threatens their imminent withdrawal (The Guardian). So far ITV has chosen not to make any official comment.

We suspect this would NOT affect the Standard Definition (SD) quality version of the main ITV channel because that is protected as a public service and must be broadcast. However, the same cannot be said for ITV HD, as well as ITV2, 3, 4 and Be (either in SD, HD or On-Demand) because those are classified as commercial and don’t have the same public broadcasting protections.

Admittedly this is not the first time that ITV has threatened to run away from the Virgin TV platform (they did the same last year but paused due to a change of management within VM). Since then the two sides have been busy trying to negotiate a new deal over complex issues related to Video-on-Demand (VoD) rights, guarantees of prominence within Virgin TV’s platform and the usual dilemma of cost etc.

The UKTV event has perhaps encouraged ITV to pile some extra pressure on Virgin Media, although it’s worth remembering that if ITV does pull their channels then they’ll still be available free of charge via Freeview and the broadcaster’s own website.

Meanwhile Ofcom are known to be keeping a close eye on all this, although at the moment all they can really do is lean a bit on both sides of the fence. Nevertheless they have this week separately proposed to “revise the EPG Code to ensure that all designated channels are easily discoverable and appropriately prominent across all on-screen programme guides” (here), which may have an impact on the above dispute.

At the time of writing we don’t expect the ITV channels to vanish this weekend.

UPDATE 28th July 2018

Good news, ITV on Virgin TV is safe. In a short statement, which was echoed by ITV, the cable operator said: “We’ve signed a new deal with ITV today. With an expanded range of fantastic programming and services, our customers can now enjoy more ITV than ever before.” No further details have been given.

Leave a Comment
20 Responses
  1. Marty says:

    I have no sympathy for VM in fact I think they deserve it.

  2. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

    ITV until they were told to behave (for the legal reason MarkJ mentions above IE protected as a public service and must be broadcast) used to require you have a viewing card on a Sky satellite system, before you could view them, even though it was a free to air channel/s. So no shocker they are trying to pull a similar stunt again.

    I wonder if this is all down to advertising revenue? With so many highstreet firms gone or in trouble you now often see the same advert several times per hour for some 1000% APR loan or similar sh1t3 on lesser channels such as those from UKTV and ITV2, 3, 4 etc.

    Perhaps ITV and UKTV think they can start demanding more from people to broadcast their channels to make up for the decreasing churn of advertising revenue.

    Will be interesting if either of them try it with Sky when those contracts are up for negotiation.

  3. Skyrocket says:

    Don’t care as Virgin Media shouldn’t be charged customrs for free to air channels, how cheek of them! Free to air channels remain FREE and should be stay AIRED!

    1. CarlT says:

      They don’t charge for the FTA channels, and it’s not up to them whether they’re permitted to carry them. No deal with the people providing the content means no carriage.

      The blame for the dispute might be laid with Virgin Media, I don’t know, but they are not entitled to anything bar, probably, ITV 1 in standard definition.

    2. Champs mufc 20 says:

      They are free you pay for having there box

    3. Simon says:

      Corrie fans will be happy at least?

      They rob the cable companys blind – you never see this with freeview or freesat?

  4. dean says:

    I believe this is to do with some government ruling a few months back that ordered certain channel providers need to spend a certain amount or produce a certain amount of new content over the next few years. Can not quite remember the specific details.

    It looks like UKTV and ITV have thought where can we get some free money from and decided to go after platforms that broadcast their channels and demand more money for the rights to do so.

    Good on Virgin for telling UKTV where to go and i hope they say the same to ITV.

    Nobody wants your repeats, cheap Saturday evening talent(LESS) shows and once a year 3 part cheap ass mini series dross.

    Start making some proper programming and spending some money other wise Netflix and the like will continue to pull away from you (https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2018/07/uk-internet-video-streaming-services-overtake-traditional-pay-tv.html)

    Content providers now would sooner spend big on sports (no matter personal opinion if you like or hate them) on-demand content and getting the rights to put it on your platform (example Netflix) and channels with regular new series.

    The days of the dominate BBC and ITV are old news.

    1. Jerry says:

      Couldn’t have said it better myself. ITV has such a poor line up it’s not worth watching. Repeats constantly, lacklustre series. The occasional program worth watching but that’s once in a blue moon.

      It’s just sad.

    2. Phil says:

      Except that’s not what has happened.

      VM tried to play hardball and as well as pay UKTV nothing for their channels, they also wanted to charge them a carriage fee.

    3. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      Feel free to point to a credible source that says VM wanted to pay UKTV nothing.

  5. Tim says:

    Who cares. You can get the channels of Freeview and Freesat. They are free to view so makes no difference to the VM subscription for paid channels.

    People with VM TV should just plug their aerial in and if they don’t want any paid channels they should cancel their TV subscription.

  6. RaptorX says:

    I wanna see them pull the channels and all the subsequent raging from VM users, lol. It’s all so petty. I can then bust out the popcorn.

    1. un4h731x0rp3r0m says:

      I doubt many will be upset, its ITV rubbish they can watch via aerial at a press on the remote.

    2. RaptorX says:

      Yeah, I don’t watch ITV much nowadays either, but many people do. Channels on Sky are so much better.

  7. Matthew says:

    And here was me thinking Virgin owned a small stake in ITV not doing them much good if they still do.

  8. Simon says:

    “With an expanded range of fantastic programming and services, ”

    Hasen’t been that way since the 90s

  9. dragoneast says:

    And I thought watching telly ceased to be news in the 1950s.

    Oh sorry, this is Britain; we are living in the 1950s.

  10. captain.cretin says:

    I cannot honestly remember the last time I watched “TV”. In fact I was wondering about cancelling the license as, the most I ever see is 30 seconds at switch on, until the wifi connects on the downstairs TV (upstairs is hard-wired).

    1. Chris P says:

      Why don’t you just pull the aerial?

      A television licence is required for each household where television programmes are watched or recorded as they are broadcast, irrespective of the signal method (terrestrial, satellite, cable or the Internet). As of September 2016, users of BBC iPlayer must also have a television licence in order to watch on-demand television content from the service.


  11. Enweil says:

    I don’t suppose there’s any chance of them running a cable across the Severn Bridge too? The “forgotten communities” in the part of Gloucestershire on the west of the Severn could do with being remembered too.


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