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Virgin Media, UKTV reach long-term carriage deal, ending weekslong spat

Virgin Media Inc. and broadcaster UKTV have reached a long-term agreement restoring all of the latter's channels and services to the Virgin TV platform, effective immediately, UKTV said Aug. 11.

The new carriage deal offers an "expanded selection of channels," including Dave HD and Gold HD, which will be added to the Liberty Global PLC unit's Mix bundle and higher subscription tiers.

UKTV will also provide additional on-demand content on Virgin TV, while the broadcaster's programming will be restored to over-the-top service Virgin TV Go.

The agreement ends a three-week dispute between Virgin Media and UKTV, with the latter claiming that Virgin Media demanded a substantial cut in carriage fees for its channels. UKTV channels went dark on Virgin TV on July 22, sparking customer outcry.

“We are sorry for what we know has been a frustrating time for our customers," Virgin Media Chief Digital Entertainment Officer David Bouchier said.

British communications watchdog Ofcom had planned to meet both parties if the spat was not resolved.

UKTV later claimed Virgin Media backed out of a new carriage deal that the two companies supposedly agreed verbally Aug. 5. A Virgin Media spokesperson, however, reportedly denied the talks were at an end.

During the dispute, Virgin Media secured a three-year extension of a separate carriage agreement with British commercial broadcaster ITV PLC.

UKTV is a joint venture between the British Broadcasting Corp. and Discovery Inc. The latter assumed the 50% stake after acquiring Scripps Networks Interactive Inc. in 2017.