More hell for Virgin customers over fears ITV could be stripped from screens
A long-running dispute between Virgin Media and ITV could soon mean subscribers lose access to ITV channels – and miss the Love Island final.
Bosses have warned that unless a decision is agreed over ‘on-demand’ rights, customers could be stripped of prime time shows such as Coronation Street , I’m a Celebrity… and This Morning.
It is believed that ITV has written to Virgin Media with a warning that channels could be revoked as soon as this weekend.
It comes after customers were left fuming on Sunday after the telecoms giant withdrew 10 UKTV channels from its TV packages in a row over pricing and the rights to broadcast shows on demand.
As a result, Gold, Dave and eight more were scrapped in exchange for lesser known ones, such as Love Nature.
Ofcom told Mirror Money it’s now investigating the dispute – and is in talks with both parties involved.
“We are concerned about the impact of this dispute on viewers, and we will be meeting both parties as a priority to see whether it can be resolved,” a spokeswoman told Mirror Money.
What’s going on with ITV?
Virgin Media and ITV have been in dispute over a range of issues including the carriage of ITV, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, and the rights to broadcast them on-demand.
The media giant said cable viewers are increasingly switching to these services, with a growth in users of Netflix, Amazon and broadcasters’ own streaming services.
ITV threatened Virgin Media with a channel black-out last year but delayed the decision during the arrival of new chief executive Carolyn McCall.
To date, the new boss has taken a more collaborative approach in negotiations, which is understood to be progressing.
However, Virgin Media’s decision on Sunday to remove UKTV’s 10 TV channels – a mix of free-to-air and pay stations including Dave and Gold – appears to have seen ITV pile the pressure on.
According to The Guardian, a letter was sent with an ultimatum that ITV could remove its channels if a final deal is not signed. A deal is said to be at advanced stage.
If no consensus is met, it is unclear if the broadcaster would be allowed to take down its flagship channel, home to shows including Good Morning Britain and Britain’s Got Talent.
However, those such as ITV2, ITV3, ITV4 and their high-definition variants could potentially be withdrawn.
These channels – although not in HD are all available through Freeview – a free-to-air service built into all TV’s manufactured and sold after 2010 .
Speaking to Mirror Money, Virgin Media hinted that it’s unlikely channels could be removed this weekend but was unable to deny it could happen.
“We continue to have constructive discussions with ITV. All ITV channels remain live on Virgin TV and we have no intention of removing them,” a comment said.
Mirror Money has contacted ITV for a comment.
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