Sky says it is now “preparing” for Discovery to remove its bundle of channels from customers’ programme guides after talks between the two broadcasting giants appeared to break down irreversibly.
On Wednesday the factual and sports brand announced it had been unable to agree a new carriage deal with Sky and suggested it was being squeezed by a pay-TV firm desperate to recoup its £4.1bn outlay on premier league football.
Tonight Sky has issued a lengthy statement – copied in full below – claiming Discovery has failed to return to the negotiating table despite being offered almost £1bn for its channels.
The UK’s largest pay-TV provider also said it was “disappointed” with what it called “misleading claims and aggressive actions” on the part of Discovery.
Meanwhile Discovery says it’s been “hugely humbled by the public support for our channels”.
A spokesperson added: “Our wonderful viewers deserve to keep the programmes and sports events that they adore and we still hope that this situation can be resolved with Sky.”
The row involves Discovery Channel, TLC, ID, Eurosport, Discovery History, Animal Planet, Discovery Shed, Home and Health, DMAX, Discovery Science and Discovery Turbo.
Yesterday the firm declined to comment on rumours that it’s considering a tie-up with BT to sell the channels direct to Sky customers as part of an enlarged Bt Sports pack offering.
“We have worked really hard for more than a year to get a deal done for our customers with Discovery, so we are disappointed with their misleading claims and aggressive actions. We now feel it’s time to set the record straight. Because despite our differences, we love Discovery too.
We were prepared to pay a fair price for the Discovery and Eurosport channels and invest more in those channels to make them even better for our customers. We have offered hundreds of millions of pounds to Discovery, a $12bn American business, but that wasn’t enough. They asked the Sky Group to pay close to £1bn for their portfolio of channels, many of which are in decline.
Sadly, we have now had to prepare for Discovery to take their channels away from Sky customers, as they have threatened to do. It is Discovery’s choice to do this, not ours. We never left the negotiating table and they haven’t come back to it since they made their threats public this week.
Sky doesn’t boot channels off our platform. If Discovery don’t want their channels to disappear, as their public campaign suggests, they could have made arrangements to stay on Sky, including free to air with advertising funding or with their own subscription, but they’ve chosen not to do so.
Our commitment to our customers is this: We will spend every penny that we were going to pay to Discovery on more and better content that our customers value. This will come from sources around the globe and home grown shows and documentaries from the UK. We will continue to offer customers a huge range of content including hundreds of shows from The History Channel, National Geographic, PBS, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic, along with more amazing sport on Sky Sports Mix, available to all our customers.
We hope our customers understand that we have been working on their behalf and will always do that. We thank them for their support.”