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Sky says it was asked to pay £1bn for Discovery and Eurosport channels

Monday, January 30th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Sky says it was asked to pay nearly £1bn to keep the Discovery and Eurosport channels on its TV platform.

Discovery Networks last week threatened to pull its entire portfolio of channels from Sky by 1 February and launched a social media campaign to gain the support of its viewers.

Unless the two companies reach an agreement in the next 24 hours or so, 12 channels including Discovery, Eurosport, TLC and Animal Planet will no longer be available to Sky customers.

Sky said it was disappointed with Discovery’s “misleading claims and aggressive actions”.

“We now feel it’s time to set the record straight. Because despite our differences, we love Discovery too,” it said in a statement on Friday night.

“We have offered hundreds of millions of pounds to Discovery, a 12bn USD American business, but that wasn’t enough. They asked the Sky Group to pay close to £1bn for their portfolio of channels, many of which are in decline.

“Sadly, we have now had to prepare for Discovery to take their channels away from Sky customers, as they have threatened to do. It is Discovery’s choice to do this, not ours. We never left the negotiating table and they haven’t come back to it since they made their threats public.”

Sky said Discovery could have made its channels free-to-air with advertising funding or charged its own subscription in order to stay on Sky, but had chosen not to.

“We will spend every penny that we were going to pay to Discovery on more and better content that our customers value,” said Sky. “We will continue to offer customers a huge range of content including hundreds of shows from The History Channel, National Geographic, PBS, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic.”

'Alternative facts'

In a statement published on Twitter, Discovery said Sky’s statement was based on “alternative facts”.

“The truth is Sky pay us less now than they did in 2006. We have asked them for a few pennies extra per year for each Sky household,” the statement said.

“We would never choose to come off Sky and abandon our viewers who we value enormously.”

Discovery has been asking viewers to call Sky’s customer services and to tweet using the hashtag #KeepDiscovery.

A number of Sky customers have been threatening to leave the provider if the Discovery channels disappear from their TV listings.

In its terms and conditions, Sky says TV services may change and that it “cannot guarantee the availability of any particular channel or programme”, so the loss of 12 channels doesn’t necessarily mean customers will be able to walk away without paying a cancellation fee.

But Sky hiking up the cost of line rental does – Ofcom rules state that customers can leave without penalty within 30 days of being notified of a price rise.

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