Viacom threatens Virgin Media blackout; discussions ongoing

(Updated) Offshoots of Channel 5, plus Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, MTV and VH-1 were threatened with a blackout on Virgin Media over the weekend.

Channel 5 owner Viacom became the latest broadcaster to enter a carriage dispute, which resulted in on-screen messages appearing to Virgin Media UK customers on numerous channels overnight into Friday, directing viewers to a website to find out more information and to register their protest using hashtags on social media.

It came ahead of further talks between Viacom and Virgin on Friday to avert a blackout.

According to messages being sent to customers, the channels were due to be axed at midnight on 31st August 2019 if a deal couldn't be reached.


While Channel 5 itself was not affected, as a commercial public service channel, its family of channels - which do not enjoy the same status - were set to disappear, according to a list of channels that appeared on the  short-lived "Keep Viacom UK" website, which now directs to the main Viacom corporate site.

On the website, seen by RXTV Log earlier today, Viacom accused Virgin of not offering a fair deal and confirmed it had not asked Virgin for an increase in the fees it receives for its channels.

By late morning on Friday, the website had been removed and a Virgin spokesperson was able to confirm that the channels would be remaining on air on Virgin Media, with "constructive" discussions with Viacom continuing.

Most carriage disputes are usually settled in private, although there has been an increase in the US-inspired practice of going public with a threat of a multi-channel blackout when negotiations go sour.

Which channels would be affected by a dispute with Viacom?
  • 5 USA
  • 5 Star
  • 5 Spike
  • 5 Select
  • Nick
  • Nick Jr.
  • Nick Jr. Too
  • Nicktoons
  • Comedy Central
  • Comedy Central Extra
  • MTV
  • MTV Music
  • MTV Rocks
  • MTV Base 
  • MTV Hits 
  • Club MTV 
  • MTV OMG!
  • VH-1
  • Paramount
  • BET

Last year, a row over fees resulted in Virgin Media customers temporarily losing access to UKTV channels including Gold, Alibi, Dave, W and Drama, resulting in a very public dispute conducted over social media between the two companies.

updated 30/08/2019 12:37 and 23:54