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Discovery In Carriage Dispute With Sky, Threatens Full Blackout

Deadline logo Deadline 1/26/2017 Diana Lodderhose
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Discovery has threatened to pull its channels from Euro pay-TV giant Sky after negotiations for a new carriage deal for the company have reached an impasse, with Discovery claiming Sky “refuses to pay a fair price.”

It’s a historic move for the company, which operates channels such as Discovery Channel, TLC, Eurosport, Discovery History, Animal Planet and DMAX.

“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,” said Discovery Networks UK Managing Director Susanna Dinnage. “The vitality of independent broadcasters like Discovery and plurality in TV is under threat.”

Discovery said that it was being paid less by Sky now than it was a decade ago, despite Sky households paying more than they did in 2007. According to the company, its share of viewing on the Sky platform has increased by more than 20% while increased investment in original content has increased by more than 30% since 2010.

The company said that if an agreement was not reached, it would pull all 12 channels from the pay-TV operator.

“Somebody has to stand up for consumers because consumers believe they are paying for choice and diversity – they deserve better,” she said. “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. We are also concerned that with the recently announced Fox transaction, Sky’s market strength and incentive to disadvantage independent TV content providers will only increase.”

Earlier today, Sky reported a first-half operating profit loss of 9%, which it said was down to increased cost of its British Premier League rights following a auction battle with rival BT so it may come as no surprise that the company is looking to reduce its payments.

Discovery, on the other hand, will be looking to capitalize on its Olympics deal: In 2015, Discovery Channel and Eurosport won rights to all TV and multi-platform rights in Europe for both the winter and summer Olympic Games for 2018-2024.

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