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ITV threatens to blackout flagship channel on Virgin Media

Cable company unhappy at proposed £80 million retransmission bill

ITV is threatening to blackout its flagship channel on Virgin Media in a row over retransmission fees.

The broadcaster wants Virgin Media to pay up to £80 million a year to carry its channels. If the row continues, some 3.8 million Virgin customers could lose the ITV feed.

According to reports, ITV wants a minimum annual payment of around £45 million for a basic feed of its main channel. That total is said to reflect a charge for each customer, including a higher tier for those on Virgin Media’s top-end monthly packages.

However, Virgin Media says there is “no reason” it should pay the fee.

A spokesperson for the company told the Daily Telegraph, “Neither Virgin Media nor our customers will be paying for channels that are meant to be free… ITV signed up to a new ten-year licence 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.”

A spokesperson for ITV countered, “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 UK content so that we can continue to invest in the programmes, particularly drama and entertainment, that our viewers enjoy.”

It’s thought the row will be one of the first issues ITV’s new chief executive Carolyn McCall will tackle when she takes up her new role in January.