Sports channels to be taken away from Virgin TV customers
A contractual row between Eir and Virgin looks set to take sports channels away from 300,000 Virgin TV customers in Ireland next month.
The dispute is over what Virgin is willing to pay for the inclusion of six sports channels - now rebranded under Eir Sport - which include English Premier League football games, GAA matches and Formula One races.
It's understood that Eir is looking for higher programming fees, to reflect rises in rights-holders' fees.
The stand-off between the two firms means that from August 1, none of the Eir Sport channels will be available to Virgin customers. Instead, Virgin will offer customers a new channel, Sky Sports Mix, available to all of its subscribers.
"We have made every effort to agree commercial terms with Eir Sport that reflect the reduced value within their sports pack," said a spokeswoman for Virgin Media. "However their pricing was excessive and simply wasn't realistic relative to their content offering, which has essentially been halved."
Virgin Media's customers paid €22-a-month to subscribe to Eir Sport's pack of channels. TV3, which is owned by Virgin Media, already carries a number of European football matches.
"Eir Sport has been in negotiations with Virgin Media to agree a new set of terms to ensure that the six channels of live sport that comprise the Eir Sport pack will continue to be carried," said a spokeswoman for Eir.
"If Virgin Media wants to carry the channels from August 1, Eir Sport is available for further talks."
Eir acquired Setanta Sports this year and rebranded the company earlier this month which was launched by sports stars Luke Fitzgerald, Brian O'Driscoll, Kieran McGeeney and Robbie Fowler.