Sky channels return to Virgin Media

Sky’s basic channels are to return to UK cable on November 13, following a new agreement between BSkyB and Virgin Media. Two new carriage agreements will see the return of Sky 1, Sky 2, Sky 3, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2 to the Virgin cablenet.

A second agreement ensures continued carriage for Virgin Media TV’s Living, Living 2, Bravo, Bravo 2, Trouble, Challenge and Virgin 1 within Sky’s DTH satellite package. As part of the agreements the two companies have agreed to drop the High Court proceedings relating to their basic channels. Both agreements will run concurrently through to June 12, 2011.

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said he recognised the quality and popularity of the Sky channels and looked forward to their return. “We are pleased to bring our carriage negotiations with Sky to a successful close. I believe this agreement represents a fair deal and is the right thing for our customers,” he said.
Sky CEO Jeremy Darroch added: “This is great news for Sky and Virgin Media customers alike. We want our channels to be enjoyed by as many people as possible so we’re delighted to secure their return to the Virgin Media platform.”

The channels had been absent from the Virgin network since March 1, 2007. Sky had been seeking a greater return from his channels following the acquisition of content that included Lost and 24. However, the cablenet was unhappy with Sky’s demand for minimum guarantees. It is significant the new agreements include fixed annual carriage fees for the channels with both channel suppliers able to secure additional capped payments if their channels meet certain performance-related targets.

Sky 3, Sky News and Sky Sports News will join Virgin Media’s entry level ‘M’ TV package that comes close to replicating the Freeview channel line-up. Sky 1 and Sky 2 will join the mid-tier ‘L’ TV package while Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2 will join Virgin Media’s ‘XL’ TV package.

Living, Living 2, Bravo, Bravo 2, Virgin 1 and Challenge will be available to subscribers of Sky’s ‘Variety’ channel pack. Trouble will be available to subscribers to Sky’s ‘Children’s’ pack.
Last week Ofcom ruled that Sky was in breach of its broadcasting codes through promotions run in connection with the carriage dispute.