The channels, as well as a number of Channel 5 spin-offs including 5Star, as well as VH1 and Paramount, could go black on the service as soon as this weekend if the two companies do not reach an agreement. “We are in ongoing negotiations with Virgin Media,” a Viacom spokesman told Deadline.
The move could lead to the loss of shows such as Friends and Peppa Pig but Viacom’s free-to-air network Channel 5 is not affected.
It is the latest carriage concern for Viacom internationally; the company struck a last minute carriage deal with AT&T in the U.S, which avoided the blackout of channels including MTV, Comedy Central, Nickelodeon and the Paramount Network will on AT&T’s DirecTV, Watch TV and U-Verse services.
Carriage is becoming an increasingly fraught issue both in the U.S. and in the UK in the last twelve months. CBS had a carriage dispute with AT&T which saw stations in New York City, Los Angeles and across the nation go dark on DirecTV, DirecTV Now and U-verse cable systems for a couple of weeks before a deal was signed.
In the UK, Virgin Media subscribers were left without UKTV channels including Taskmaster network Dave and Flack broadcaster W after the two companies warred for weeks. Discovery and Sky also had a public carriage row in 2017 that saw the factual broadcaster call out the pay-TV broadcaster, then backed by the Murdochs, for “refusing to pay a fair price”.
A Virgin Media spokesman told Deadline, “All of these channels remain on Virgin TV and we continue to have positive and constructive discussions with Viacom.”