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Discovery Demanding $1.25 Billion for U.K. Carriage Deal, Sky Claims

Variety logo Variety 1/30/2017 Leo Barraclough
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Discovery is demanding £1 billion ($1.25 billion) for its portfolio of channels in the U.K., according to pay-TV provider Sky, which is engaged in a dispute with the U.S. channels giant over the renewal of their carriage agreement.

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

Discovery refutes Sky’s £1 billion claim, and states that Sky pays less now than it did 11 years ago. “We have asked them for a few pennies extra per year for each Sky household. We would never choose to come off Sky and abandon our viewers who we value enormously,” Discovery said.

The exact terms of the alleged $1.25 billion demand, such as the length of the deal, are unclear.

If the companies fail to resolve their differences, the Discovery channels — which include Discovery, Animal Planet, Eurosport and TLC — will be pulled from Sky on Wednesday. Eurosport aired announcements over the weekend warning Sky customers that they were in danger of losing access to the sports channel.

The Sky spokesperson said: “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 [last week].

“Sky doesn’t boot channels off our platform. If Discovery don’t want their channels to disappear, as their public campaign suggests, they could have made arrangement to stay on Sky, including free to air with advertising funding or with their own subscription, but they’ve chosen not to do so.”

Discovery’s statement concluded: “We’ve been amazed and humbled by the incredible support from many of the millions who watch Discovery programs on Sky every week. We hope Sky will listen to them and realize that while they provide top-quality sport and drama, people want variety and choice and that includes all the programs offered by Discovery’s network of channels, including documentaries, sport, natural history and entertainment.”

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