Virgin Media to lose Sky channels

Virgin Media says it is likely to lose Sky One, Sky Two, Sky Three, Sky News and Sky Sports News channels.

Following an intensive series of meetings over the last week, "We now anticipate a withdrawal of these channels by Sky at the end of February". Virgin Media said in a statement.

Virign Media is blaming Sky for heavy-handed tactics to force its customers wanting to watch shows like 24 to switch off: "The nature of these negotiations leads us to believe that this outcome has been deliberately engineered by Sky in order to suppress competition and coerce Virgin Media's customers into switching to its service by denying them access to the basic channels".

The negotiations do not impact Sky's premium sports and movies channels which will continue to be available to Virgin Media customers.

Virgin has said that "If Sky withdraws its channels, Virgin Media will divert any money saved into continuing the transformation of our TV service with an extensive range of new channels and programming".

Commenting on the anticipated withdrawal of Sky's basic channels, Steve Burch, President and CEO of Virgin Media said: "Throughout its history, Virgin has challenged the attempts of dominant corporations to manipulate markets, stifle competition and dictate consumer choice. It has done so simply by giving consumers a better deal and Virgin Media is going to do the same. Sky's behavior is a heavy handed and anti-competitive response to that challenge and consumer choice has been reduced as a result. I'm pleased, however, that at a time when they're taking content away, Virgin Media is giving people more".

We are still awaiting comment from Sky.