Virgin Media threatens legal action in BSkyB row
Monday, March 5th, 2007

Virgin Media said today it would pursue legal action against British pay-TV firm BSkyB if a programming carriage row is not resolved in 30 days. Legal remedies sought will include supply of Sky’s basic channels at a reasonable commercial rate and fair payment for BSkyB’s carriage of Virgin Media TV channels, such as Living and Bravo, the company said in a statement.

Virgin Media said it would seek damages if the dispute was not resolved. ”We are not interested in prolonging this dispute any longer than necessary but we will not allow Virgin Media or our customers to be the victim of Sky’s market power,” said Virgin Media Chief Executive Steve Burch. “In the interest of the consumer, we want these issues resolved quickly,” he added.

The company’s move came on the same day that the boss of BSkyB accused its rival of seeking to play the “victim” to win public sympathy. ”I think their PR offensive was always part of the plan. They wanted to have a big dispute,” James Murdoch told The Daily Telegraph. ”They want to try and turn Virgin Media from what is a pretty big business in residential telephony and the biggest business - or it was until the last quarter - in residential broadband into a victim to try and get public support.”

Last week the new Virgin Media UK cable TV platform lost BSkyB’s basic channels after the two sides failed to agree a new carriage deal. Attempts to negotiate a new agreement have turned into a public slanging match.

(Source: Reuters)