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Sky to lose 12 channels over pay dispute with Discovery

Thursday, January 26th 2017 by Phil Wilkinson-Jones

Sky customers are being warned they could lose 12 channels at the end of the month over a dispute between Sky and the owner of the Discovery Channel.

Discovery Networks is threatening to pull its portfolio of channels, which also includes TLC, Animal Planet and Eurosport, from both the Sky and Now TV platforms if a new agreement isn’t reached soon.

But statements released by the two organisations suggest neither side is holding out much hope of finding a resolution.

Susanna Dinnage, managing director of Discovery Networks UK, said: “We believe Sky is using what we consider to be its dominant market position to further its own commercial interest over those of viewers and independent broadcasters.”

Discovery says it is paid less by Sky than it was a decade ago despite increasing its share of viewing on Sky’s platform by 20% over that same period of time.

“Somebody has to stand up for consumers, because consumers believe they are paying for choice and diversity – they deserve better,” said Ms Dinnage.

“Discovery is prepared to take that stand. Pay television needs to be about more than just films and football. The consumer can’t be expected to fund all of Sky’s investments and get less and less choice in return.”

A Sky spokesperson said: “Despite our best efforts to reach a sensible agreement, we, like many other platforms and broadcasters across Europe, have found the price expectations for the Discovery portfolio to be completely unrealistic.

“Discovery’s portfolio of channels includes many which are linear-only where viewing is falling.

“Sky has a strong track record of understanding the value of the content we acquire on behalf of our customers, and as a result we’ve taken the decision not to renew this contract on the terms offered.

“We have been overpaying Discovery for years and are not going to anymore. We will now move to redeploy the same amount of money into content we know our customers value.”

Coming just a day after Sky confirmed the price of its line rental would go up on 1 March, from £17.40 to £18.99, the loss of 12 popular channels could see customers whose bills are going up looking elsewhere.

Under current Ofcom rules, customers can walk away from their provider within 30 days of being notified of a price increase, without having to pay a cancellation charge.

The dispute doesn’t affect Virgin and BT customers, as Discovery already has long-term agreements in place with both companies.

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