I’m a Virgin Media customer - how can I watch UKTV channels?

Lawrence Kim
July 23, 2018

The other issue is that, alongside that, Virgin is asking for a cut in the fees they pay UKTV for their suite of channels.

Virgin Media customers can no longer watch UKTV channels in a dispute over fees. The programmes at risk include Red Dwarf, Porridge and Only Fools and Horses.

It leaves fans of shows including Red Dwarf, Taskmaster, Judge Romesh and Harrow unable to watch some of their favourite programmes as a result of the dispute.

A lot of what we're seeing with the UKTV/Virgin spat seems to be further evidence that media contract laws aren't keeping up with the technology that powers them, making these kinds of spats an inevitable byproduct as both parties continue to navigate renewals. "Sky shop Wednesday unless you fix it SaveDave".

Virgin says that due to the restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC with regards to on-demand programming it has chose to stop broadcasting the channels.

Some Virgin Media subscribers have vented their anger on Twitter.

Their ten channels - including Alibi, Dave and W - have already been replaced by such channels as Paramount Network, YourTV and Premier Sports.

But the most famous carriage dispute in the United Kingdom happened in 2007-8 where (then) bitter rivals Sky and Virgin fell out to the point that all Sky channels were removed from Virgin Media for almost 18 months before an extensive multi-platform deal covering linear, on-demand and interactive services was signed, including clauses to make a renegotiation easier later down the line.

David Bouchier, chief digital entertainment officer at Virgin Media, said the decision to remove UKTV was due to "restrictions put on UKTV by the BBC" with regard to on-demand programming.

"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'.

Virgin TV customers with Freeview or Freesat access will be able to access the free-to-air channels via those services.

Around 4m households will no longer receive UKTV's 10 channels after the two companies were unable to reach an agreement on a new distribution deal.

All UKTV channels are available on Sky, BT and Talk Talk subscription services.

On-demand and catch-up programming for the channels will also no longer be available for Virgin customers.

UKTV chief executive Darren Childs said it could not accept the "drastic" cut in price that Virgin was seeking to show the paid channels on its pay-to-view service.

A #saveDave hashtag has been popular on social media with angry viewers pointing out that UKTV was the only thing their families watched and that warnings of a potential blackout were only started at the eleventh hour, leaving viewers upset and poorly communicated to.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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