ITV has threatened to drop its flagship channel from the Virgin Media platform unless the cable operator agrees to pay up to £80 million ($106 million) a year for the service.
ITV had said last month that it was going to shut down the feed of its main channel to the nearly 3.8 million homes served by Virgin Media unless an agreement was reached. The broadcaster agreed to delay the decision until the arrival of the new ITV chief executive.
A Virgin Media spokesperson commented: “The UK Government has been very clear and consistent—no fees for public service channels like ITV1.
“ITV signed up to a new ten-year license in 2015 that didn’t include these fees—it’s now trying to go back on this deal to prop up its profits. ITV is already fully compensated for this through its prominent position, with the audience reach and additional advertising revenue this delivers.
“Neither Virgin Media nor our customers will be paying for channels that are meant to be free.”
A spokesperson for ITV said: “Our position is very straightforward: ITV, and other public service broadcasters, should be paid fairly by pay-TV platforms that make money from our multi-billion pound investment in original U.K. content so that we can continue to invest in the programs, particularly drama and entertainment, that our viewers enjoy.
“We already have commercial contracts in place for the supply of our digital channels and ITV Hub to Virgin Media and DCMS Minister Matt Hancock has said that he sees no reason why contractual arrangements can’t be put in place for the carriage of our main channel. We agree. A change in the law now allows us to negotiate with Virgin for payment for our main channel, and that is what we are attempting to do.”