Virgin Media customers are about to lose access to 10 channels

Anthony Cuthbertson
Customers of Virgin Media will no longer have access to Dave, Gold and other popular channels: Getty Images

Customers of Virgin Media will no longer be able to watch UKTV channels, including Dave and Gold, following a digital rights dispute.

The issue revolves around the BBC's claim to the streaming rights of its programming, which it does not want to make freely available through UKTV's Play on-demand service. Instead, it wants to sell them to paid subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Failing to reach an agreement with UKTV – jointly owned by the BBC and and US broadcaster Discovery – means Virgin Media will slash its TV channel portfolio from Sunday, 22 July.

Virgin Media began notifying its customers of the reduced service on Thursday evening, while a message on the affected channels appeared on Friday stating: "This channel is being replaced from Sunday."

New channels have since been announced that will help repopulate its platform, including Vice TV and FreeSports.

David Bouchier, Virgin Media's chief digital entertainment officer, said: "The problem is the BBC does not grant the UKTV digital rights with its TV shows which leaves it somewhat stranded as a linear dinosaur in an on-demand modern world."

He added: “Part of a commitment to audiences has to be allowing them to watch what they want, when they want and that also means being able to watch those programmes on demand. From US studios to small programme-makers, that is how it is done. The BBC puts UKTV in a very difficult position and we have been unable to come to terms and will replace the channels.”

Darren Childs, chief executive of UKTV, said of the issue: "We want to continue to provide our channels to Virgin Media, but the huge cut in fees that Virgin has requested doesn’t reflect the value we bring to customers.

“UKTV’s channels account for over a quarter of pay entertainment channel viewing within Virgin Media’s basic subscription pack, while our on demand viewing has grown by over a third in the last year.”

The full list of UKTV channels affected are Drama, Really, Yesterday, Home, Gold, W, Alibi, Dave, Eden and Good Food, as well as their +1 and HD channels.