Virgin Media has struck a “long term” deal to restore all of UKTV’’s channels and services to Virgin TV, ending a two week row which started when the cable company demanded a reduction in the fees it paid to the broadcaster.
Under the deal, UKTV will supply High Definition versions of its Dave and Gold channels as well as “five times the amount of on-demand programming available on Virgin TV”.
UKTV’s programming on Virgin TV Go will also return so customers can watch programmes out of the home and on the move.
Virgin Media says it will work to promote UKTV’s content and channels to its customers.
Th removal of the channels prompted a fierce backlash from customers, with many taking to Virgin’s own forums and social media to demand either a reduction in their subscription fees or threatening to cancel if the channels didn’t return.
Virgin was also criticised after it appeared to demand the right to carry UKTV’s free to air channels cost-free despite charging all customers to access them.
The dispute saw Virgin Media, which sold its share in UKTV five years ago, attack the BBC, a 50% shareholder in UKTV, as a “dinosaur” for supposedly failing to support the company by not providing it with the on-demand boxsets rights to key BBC shows such as Top Gear.
Despite the importance Virgin Media placed on these rights, today’s deal does not include access to these shows and the firm has now conceded it will have to engage in separate talks with the BBC to buy them.
David Bouchier, Chief Digital Entertainment Officer at Virgin Media said: “Reaching this agreement reaffirms our longstanding partnership with UKTV and is fantastic news for our customers.
“They can enjoy channels like Dave and Gold once again, including in HD, and also get more UKTV on-demand programming than ever before.
“On top of this, the channels we’ve recently added to Virgin TV will remain.
“We are sorry for what we know has been a frustrating time for our customers, but are pleased that our TV bundles are now even bigger.
“Our unwavering commitment to investing in incredible programming remains.”
Simon Michaelides, Chief Commercial Officer, UKTV, said: “Viewers are at the heart of UKTV and we want to thank them for all of their support.
“We know this has created real disruption for some of our viewers and we’re so sorry for this, but we are thrilled to be back, broadcasting our channels and shows to customers of Virgin Media once more.”