/ Technology

Virgin drops 10 UKTV channels: are you affected?

10 UKTV channels, including Gold, were dropped by Virgin Media over the weekend after a dispute between the two companies – how do you feel about the changes?

Update: UKTV channels are returning to Virgin media after a deal was reached (August, 2018)

Back in February 2017 we discussed a similar situation – Sky TV subscribers were set to lose all 13 of the Discovery network of channels.

Fortunately in that case, a last-minute deal was struck between the two companies to keep the channels on. This time around? No such luck – the channels have already been removed, and people aren’t impressed.

The blame game

Naturally, both companies are blaming each other for the situation, with customers caught in the middle.

And, as it’s 2018, this dispute is playing out very publicly. Here’s UKTV’s take:

And here’s Virgin Media’s response:

Your rights

Five of the 10 affected channels (Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday) are still available via Freeview and Freesat, and Virgin has also added new channels to ‘replace’ the UKTV offering.

However, that may not be enough to appease viewers of the five paid channels (Gold, Alibi, Edin, Good Food and W) – and the news is especially bad for fans of old BBC classics like me (such as Blackadder, Only Fools & Horses and Porridge) which air regularly on Gold.

I had a chat with our Consumer Rights team to see what options are available to frustrated customers, but unfortunately they’re pretty limited.

Virgin’s Ts&Cs are pretty iron-clad for these scenarios:

​1. Some content included in the television service from time to time is supplied by other organisations and may be changed or removed due to matters outside our reasonable control or for commercial or contractual reasons including but not limited to the loss of particular content or programmes or other components from the television service.

  1. 2. You agree that changes in the content available or changes in access to particular content will not be a significant change to the television service or this agreement.

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to cancel easily if you’re still in contract, but there’s nothing to stop you haggling for a lower monthly fee, especially if the UKTV channels made up a considerable portion of your viewing. And if you’re out of contract, you can always switch to another supplier.

Have you been affected by the removal of the 10 UKTV channels? Are you considering leaving as a result?

Comments
Member

It isn’t this that has made me leave Virgin, but I should have switched a long time ago. I stayed with them because of their cable technology, but now I’m fed up with paying a price I don’t think matches the service I get, eg £19.99 for the phone line. I also find it scandalous that Virgin should sue the NHS for not being awarded a contract. Branson a spoilt brat!? I don’t want to give him my money anymore.

I do remember a long time ago when Virgin stopped showing Sky One because of some sort of dispute. Not Virgin, not anyone else is interested in providing a service primarily, they’re interested in making money. Providing a service is utterly incidental to the businesses. Look at the NHS again, and look at the trains!! Virgin Trains compared to eg the TGV? The French are laughing.

I’m switching to Utility Warehouse because of a ?Which review. They don’t offer a TV service at present, but nowadays I rarely watch TV live anyway (*), so I’ll watch catch up TV through broadband. Fingers crossed the connection is reasonable.

(*Except the 6 Nations, Rugby World Cup, Football European Cup, and Football World Cup. Wasn’t this world cup fabulous? (Great shame about what’s going on in the location politically, but that’s definitely another matter.) So many exciting matches, and this English team is one to watch. They’ll be back! 🙂 )

Member
Brian Fenlon says:
29 July 2018

Richard Branson has little to do with Virgin Media which was sold to Liberty Media some years ago. I agree with most of what you say.

Member
Karen Brown says:
23 July 2018

The arrogance of all concerned has really angered me. As long-standing Virgin XL customers with bundled broadband and phone, you would have thought they could have let us know. I found out through the Radio Times Twitter feed!

We are now looking into reducing our package with them to a minimum as we don’t really watch many of the extra channels they provide. Also, as we have Freeview and Netflix, there really isn’t much that we can’t watch in another way.

I feel that all providers have us over a barrel – deciding at a whim what we can and cannot watch, despite paying out many hundreds of pounds a year. I remember being particularly annoyed at ITV when they decided to set up a Sky only channel (Encore) and made one of my favourite shows, The Americans unavailable. That obviously didn’t work very well for them, and now I can see it again on ITV4. What next?
We don’t have any guarantees that other channels that Virgin currently use won’t follow suit. We really are at the mercy of large, greedy companies and, guess what, it is the customer that suffers every time.

Member

As well as cutting out content for their customers, Virgin are bullying UKTV who, quite reasonably in my view, want a higher payment for their prestige channels in return for making the free ones available. I am not a Virgin customer, so it doesn’t affect me, but I sympathise with those who have committed everything to Virgin and have no alternative technology to catch the channels they like.

I agree with Sophie about Virgin Trains they are not so fast as the French ones and not so spacious but that’s not their fault; most of the the British railways were built to a smaller loading gauge than those on the Continent, but there are equivalent trains on the route from St Pancras and through the Channel Tunnel [I won’t mention HS2].

Member
john scandrett says:
23 July 2018

virginmedia had not got the guts to tell there customers about it or even offer a reduction in there charges I am unhappy about it they seem to have no loyality to there customers after being with them for years

Member
RE says:
23 July 2018

I got a glib response on Twitter from VM who suggested I should watch UKTVs channels via the web.
Virgin Media is owned by Liberty Global who pay a licence fee to use the name. (The same is true of many of the other Virgin named business.) So Virgin Media, Trains, Money etc all have different ownership

Member

Freeview offers good value for money.

Member

So does freesat. porbably uses the same dish as your other satellite provider. Having said that we rarely use ours, relying on freeview.

Member
DerekP says:
24 July 2018

I’m not a Virgin subscriber, so:

Have I been affected by the removal of the 10 UKTV channels? No.

Am I considering leaving as a result? No.

If my PlusNet BB ever turns out to be too slow, I might join Virgin for a BB only service.

Member
John Sims says:
28 July 2018

I am upset that some of the UKTV channels have been removed and have looked at the alternatives, but as we can see our recorded programs in other rooms at a bargain price with Virgin it is not economic to change to another provider. Free view is not the answer as we used to record UKTV programs that are on late at night. I am not impressed.

Member

I’ve been a VM customer for many many years including all their previous incarnations NTL, Nynex etc etc.. They have undoubtedly shot themselves in the foot. I’ve been reading comments on the VM’s own community site and to say there is a groundswell of dissatisfaction would be an understatement of biblical proportions. It seems people have already, or are in the process of changing supplier, mostly to Sky. For my part I will give it a month to see if the enormity of their mistake and the ensuing PR disaster finally dawns on them. Then I will consider my options.

Whilst I realise that their contract is probably watertight in that they reserve the right to add or delete channels at will I find it difficult to understand how they justify the removal of UKTV and its substitution wth totally random second rate channels announcing ’The addition of new and exciting channels’. Some of these are even duplicated and were already included in my TV XL bundled phone and broadband package anyway….’new and exciting’ I don’t think so! Surely this is totally misleading.

In the meantime I shall be contacting VM to demand a reduction in my subscription. Although just how I contact them is another matter since amazingly for a Tech company they do not appear to have an email address for complaints. Their customer complaints telephone line is always engaged and and ‘Live Chat’ is always ‘unavailable at the present time’ surprise surprise!

Member
Paula says:
28 July 2018

I gave up on Virgin back when they removed all the Sky channels. Luckily I was out of contract so just moved to Sky. Have never regretted it. Virgin treat their customers with utter contempt. I think someone should challenge the legality of their contract wording – it basically says ‘you’ll have whatever you’re given and still have to pay the same’. Nope!

Member
Trebor says:
28 July 2018

Have been with Virgin from start and the one before (forget its name).
Always have to haggle each year on renewing – getting right fed-up of it !
But it seems there are all crap – some more than others.
It’s a case of picking the smallest pile of it that’s less harmless/flustering etc.
The only use we ordinary folk are is to be shafted by the lot of them !
Utilities – Politicians – Government – Councils – Police – Insurers – and so on !

Member
John says:
29 July 2018

Intermittent Virgin broadband service for the past 2 weeks, now down completely, many hours on the phone to Indian call centres where I just get a scripted reply or totally misleading information. Now spoken to Customer service who offers an immediate reduction of £37 (on this months subscription of £90), a 12 month reduction of £15 pm provided I contract to stay with them for 12 months. Not sure whether to accept or just tell them to shove it.

Member

John refuse the 12 month reduction as that puts you on a NEW contract with new conditions . You are not alone and yes the complaints are all up to date – this month
https://www.broadband.co.uk/broadband/providers/virgin-media/reviews/ I take it you are on Virgin Media CABLE John ? This gets most people 100Mbps but as you say their service is lousy when a fault occurs . some people go back to FTTC although its a drop in speed.

Member

I have just remembered John BT is competing with VM now by offering GFAST which offers speeds up to 300Mbps over copper . It might be available in your area .

Member
Muir says:
30 July 2018

I have been with Virgin since its inception – previous Freeserve, then Ntlworld customer – and i think it is UKTV that is at fault – they supply free to air channels but are barring Virgin from using them unless they take the full package on offer from UKTV – i cannot get easy aerial reception – so using Freeview to view these channels is not an option – as to my Virgin service i have the Big Kahuna bundle and it is mainly for their Broadband speeds – and every six months or so i will haggle with Virgin customer service to get a bit of a discount and also 6 months free Sky Sports – or as at present 6 months free Movies package. and for other commenters – Virgin Money is a separate entity as is Virgin trains – and Virgin Healthcare

Member

Muir, if you cannot get “easy ” terrestrial reception of Freeview why dont you install –Freesat ? I have both terrestrial and satellite reception of Astra 28 degrees E which is the same satellite Sky uses so I have a choice of two ways of viewing . This signal is very strong in terms of satellite reception in the UK and not only that my sat box (Technomate ) has a slot for a card so that I can watch SKY –if I pay for it . I realise you watch on cable but this is a free option if you install it yourself and you can install a much bigger dish for better spread of bandwidth. BT are now challenging VM with the “Gfast ” (trademark ) network which will give you about 300Mbps ( depending on distance etc ) on Copper. Glasgow has a lot installed now in competition with Virgin Cable. FTTP is now being installed on a parallel basis too.

Member

I am on the Virginmedia Fun package. The loss of Dave, Really, etc is a big inconvenience to me and my wife. We habitually record some of the old programs (Last of the Summer Wine, for example) on the Tivo box for watching at our convenience. Of course, you can’t do this with Freeview without buying another complicated expensive box and it seems that Virgin will delete all my Tivo recordings after 3 months! If we don’t get UKTV back, we will think about cancelling Virginmedia, buying a new recording box and looking at who can give us a cheap home telephone service.
NB One of the replacement channels is 127 Premium Sports HD. The Virginmedia website says that this will be subscription free for 2 months. We don’t watch sports much and I am concerned that I will be charged for this automatically after the 2 months (I have no idea how much!) I have phoned VM to cancel this channel but it is still on my channel list. I have been caught out before by so-called “free” upgrades only to find a later rise in my bill. So it is worth watching out for.

Member

If Virgin is suddenly bereft of some of its key channels it either has to fight back or capitulate. Regular subscribers are going to be ***** off (my asterisks, translate them if you wish) and Virgin will lose some of its revenue. Price reductions probably won’t compensate. People want to watch what they want to watch. It seems as though Virgin can’t fight back in a channel blocking war, or the opposition would have not bothered to blank their output for fear of reprisal. The other option is to pay what is asked of them and take the additional cost on the chin, quietly hiking the subscription fees. Sky does this very effectively claiming that they are doing us a favour and we shouldn’t begrudge them a little extra. It is a cut throat business with many companies vying for our subscriptions and the fickle public shifting loyalties to the next attraction or trend. Is there an argument that the public are entitled to see the television they wish to see, provided they pay for it, thus each supplier should be required to supply every channel as part of their service? If this were the case, then, like the power industry, it would be the service each provided that would gain them the leading edge. Now, each company has their own little cohort of programmes to peddle and they are getting protective about who else can show them. The consumer can only sit and watch -or not as the case may be.

Member
Sue says:
3 August 2018

We are bereft without Alibi, Drama and Yesterday. VM offered to lower our payments but as have Netflix and Freeview already on another TV I’m thinking of cancelling. I’m getting 100mbps B.B. Anyone think of any reliable suppliers for just B.B.?

Member
Terry M says:
5 August 2018

I have been a virgin Media customer ever since it laid a cable in my street many years ago. How Virgin expect the owners of the channels we can no longer watch to drop their charges, I do not know. All prices are going up. Virgin have the cheek to increase our package prices (Over £100 per month for us) and stop us watching our favourite channels. We are missing the old re-runs of The Bill and similar on W and Dave. Seriously considering changing our providers for TV internet and telephone. When Virgin act without even considering their customers, they do not deserve to retain our loyalty.

Member
Raymond Lees says:
7 August 2018

you have broken your contract me us so you shound drop your prices NOW. The extra channels r rubbish .