Sky has issued a statement responding to Virgin Media's claims that it has been "heavy-handed" in negotiations.

Full statement below:

“With several days remaining and active discussions continuing, we’re surprised and disappointed that NTL/Virgin chose to go on national radio to attack Sky and suggest, prematurely, that their customers will miss out on Sky basic channels from 1 March."

“We want Sky basic channels, including Sky One, Sky Two, Sky Sports News and the award-winning Sky News, to remain available to NTL/Virgin customers. We’re also offering more to NTL/Virgin than ever before, including HD services and new channels such as Sky Three and Sky Arts, the UK’s only dedicated arts channel."

“Unlike the open satellite platform, NTL/Virgin’s cable network is closed. The only way Sky’s channels can be available to cable viewers is if NTL/Virgin chooses to carry them."

“Sky understands the importance of investing in the TV that customers enjoy and has developed a unique portfolio of basic channels over the last 18 years. Sky’s investment in these channels has increased by 68% over the last five years. Our goal is a reasonable price that reflects the benefits that we bring to NTL/Virgin customers. Our last offer remains on the table. Sky has negotiated with NTL/Virgin in good faith and has shown flexibility on price. We categorically reject their claims that we have broken off negotiations or that we are seeking to more than double the price of these channels."

“Sky’s investment brings viewers great shows such as the newest episodes of Lost, 24 and The Simpsons as well as acclaimed original productions such as Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather. These are some of the most popular shows on cable TV and have loyal audiences among NTL/Virgin’s customers. All of cable TV’s top 25 rated pay-TV entertainment shows this year have been on Sky One. Only this week, Sky News was named News Channel of the Year while Sky Sports News has a dedicated following as the UK’s only 24 hour sports news channel."

“NTL/Virgin is spending tens of millions of pounds on re-branding, including paying millions to the Virgin Group simply to use their name. At the same time, they have increased prices for their TV customers by up to a third in the last year and are charging high prices for broadband. We think NTL/Virgin should sort out their priorities and avoid short-changing customers with an inferior and over-priced service.!

“Sky has always stood for choice and competition. This is something we are very proud of. Since the launch of Sky Broadband, Sky has injected a new level of competition and value into the marketplace. Customers switching from NTL/Virgin to Sky are saving hundreds of pounds a year."

“NTL/Virgin can’t expect to free-ride on Sky’s commitment to bring viewers the best TV. They need to decide whether they are going to invest in the programmes that their customers enjoy.”