BSkyB’s latest attempts to restore the carriage of its basic channels to Virgin Media customers have been rejected by the cable operator. In letters written by BSkyB CEO James Murdoch to his opposite number at Virgin Steve Burch, seen by Broadband TV News, BSkyB suggests the two companies split the difference on Virgin’s last offer to Sky. The amount in question is around £5 million per year. The Sky branded basic channels Sky One, Sky News and Sky Sports News have been absent from the Virgin since March – a move that has already resulted in a fall in subscribers to the cablenet.
In his letter of May 10, Murdoch writes “We are concerned that your apparent reluctance to negotiate signals a willingness on Virgin Media’s part to deprive cable viewers of Sky’s basic channels indefinitely, or for a protracted period. We hope this is not the case.”
It continues: “We hope that you will accept this proposal and meet us in the middle so that we can rapidly complete a legally binding agreement that enables the return of Sky’s basic channels to Virgin Media’s customers within days.”
Burch formally rejected the BSkyB offer in writing on Thursday evening, prompting the second letter from Murdoch, also made public.
Murdoch tells Burch that despite saying they are making every effort to restore Sky’s basic channels to its customers there has been no meaningful engagement. “Disappointingly, we can only conclude that you are not genuinely interested in offering Sky’s channels to your customers, preferring to continue to deny Sky access to your network as a means of pursuing wider corporate goals, simultaneously harming Sky commercially by denying us wholesale subscription and advertising revenues.”
According to BSkyB, the response did not contain any new offers, and Virgin has made no proposals since February 22.