Virgin Media customers have been left unhappy after UKTV channels including Dave and Gold were wiped from their boxes over the weekend – if you’re affected, here’s what you can do.
Talks between the Virgin Media and UKTV failed to solve an impasse over fees and so 10 channels, including five which are free-to-air, disappeared from Virgin Media subscribers’ televisions at 00.01 on Sunday morning.
Virgin Media says it is trying to resolve the dispute, but if you’re unhappy you can push to leave your contract or ask for a price reduction – though there are no guarantees this will work for everyone.
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Which channels have I lost?
Free-to-air channels Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday, along with paid-for channels Alibi, Eden, Gold, Good Food and W were all taken off Virgin boxes on Sunday, because of the dispute with UKTV.
It leaves fans of shows including Taskmaster, Judge Romesh, Harrow and Red Dwarf unable to watch some of their favourite programmes.
The free-to-air channels – Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday – are also available on Freeview and Freesat, which usually come with a TV when you buy one.
Virgin also says it has added some channels, including Paramount HD and YourTV.
Can I leave my contract penalty-free?
If you’re not happy with the loss of channels you can ask for a price reduction or to leave your contract with Virgin penalty-free so you can switch to another provider, as all UKTV channels are available on subscription services provided by Sky, BT and Talk Talk.
If you decide to switch use our Broadband Unbundled tool first to ensure it is worth it – especially as Virgin only provides bundle deals and so this will most likely mean switching your broadband too.
After you’ve benchmarked the best deals, here’s what to do:
- If you’re in contract. At the moment, Virgin is refusing to say if you’ll be able to cancel your contract penalty-free as a result of these channels being removed. It says customers should contact it to review their situation on an individual basis.
If you’re unhappy with the changes and you do want to leave Virgin, or if you want a price reduction, call Virgin on 0345 454 1111 and explain how much you watch UKTV channels and how important they are for you. It will also be worth looking through the terms and conditions of your specific contract and seeing what it says about if your service is reduced, to use this in your negotiations. If you don’t get what you want, your next stage would be to contact Ofcom to complain.
- If you’re out of contract. You are in a stronger position, as you can leave penalty-free at any time, giving 30 days’ notice. If you don’t want to leave you can use the cut to UKTV channels as a bargaining chip to negotiate a better contract. See our Haggle with Virgin guide for more tips on how to do this.
If you manage to successfully negotiate with Virgin, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What do Virgin Media, UKTV and Ofcom say?
A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “We’re as frustrated as our customers that UKTV has removed all of its channels from Virgin TV. We are ready to bring back UKTV’s free channels for our customers immediately with UKTVs permission.
“We are very happy to listen and speak to our customers and discuss any concerns they have on an individual basis.
“Customers are not paying specifically for UKTVs channels but for the whole portfolio of TV content and other services (such as our ultrafast fibre broadband) available in their bundle.”
UKTV chief executive Darren Childs said: “We’re hugely disappointed for the many customers who are losing out because our channels are no longer available through Virgin Media.
“We completely understand their frustration and would love to continue to bring them the shows and channels that they’re so passionate about, but we need a fair price to support our growing investment in programmes.”
An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We are always concerned that consumers are treated fairly and their interests are protected. If customers are unhappy with the change to their service, they should raise concerns with Virgin Media in the first instance. We would also consider any complaints we receive.”