back to article Sky takes ball and goes home

Customers of Virgin Media sitting down to watch Ultimate Volcano on Sky One last night were shut off a minute into the programme and presented with the following message: Thanks to Sky, the Sky One channel is no longer available. They've picked up their ball and gone home. Foul play? We think so. To have your say, visit …


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  1. Paul

    What a silly analogy!

    Better to say that if someone wanted to buy a ducatti but ducatti doubles the price that its mainly the persons fault he did not get one not ducattis fault for doubling the price

  2. Craig McCormick

    Murdoch and money

    I originally moved from Telewest to Sky, more or less because of the interface. The cable box interface was slow and the box locked up all too often. Back last year, I was annoyed by NewsCorp's tactics with regards to the Sven/Sheikh sting and was on the verge of cancelling my Sky subscription and going back to Telewest.

    With this latest show of greed from Murdoch's empire, along with their stake in ITV, I'm back to being a bit miffed with them again. To be fair, it is only The Simpsons on Sky One that I'll miss, as I was going to drop Sky Sports anyway.

    As they're holding competitors to ransom, I don't see much point in going to any other subscription service and strongly resent paying Sky now. Freeview, here I come, I can see it having a decent future over the next few years and if Sky's greed continues this way, I can see them being a less attractive option for advertisers.

    Given time, I can see Sky sticking Sky One on Freeview, to maximise advertising potential, anyway. The current, highly priced, select model will likely make way for the stack it high, sell it low one, when they see advertising revenues falling.

    Still, I'm just a customer, but I am a customer with some sense of ethics. Whilst Virgin aren't entirely blameless and are appearing slightly foolish with some of their 'propaganda', Sky's arrogance and greed is just a bit too much for me to swallow. Buggrem, I'm orf!

  3. Chris Peregrine

    What about Ofcom?

    The stated aim of Ofcom is that consumers should be able to get whatever content they want via whatever delivery mechanism they choose - so isn't it the regulator that should be red-faced over this? Sky is trying to leverage their ownership of the rights to push their own delivery mechanism (satellite) and the regulator should be ensuring that they can't do this. Clearly they aren't interested and are happy to let Sky and Virgin fight this one out...

  4. Colin Jackson


    I was pretty pissed off about this, since I only got my spanky new Virgin Media cable connection fired up this weekend. But then I realised that since I'm not a fan of wall-to-wall simpsons, and since I'd no more watch Sky news than I would Fox news, then I wasn't missing anything with my basic package subscription. As for the the prime-time US shows, well that's what usenet's for innit? I'm not paying through the nose to watch programmes that aired in the US 8 months ago. Why not just pay the money and offer the Sky channels as a subscription mini-package, for say a couple of extra quid a month? To be honest, I'd be more sympathetic to VM if they could stop my set-top box from crashing at least once a night and keep my internet connection...connected.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tiny little rats ass

    I am sure, as a poor consumer, that i do not care ' a tiny little rats ass' about who broadcasts what... i will just change to whoever provides the best service.

  6. Robbie Hughes

    Nip Tuck Series 1 not 3

    Sadly Virgin are showing Series 1 of Nip Tuck on demand, not series 3 as Sky are showing...

    Nobody in the press seems to have noticed this...

  7. Lee Turner

    Oh no, what a great loss of advertising!

    Oh wow, what a great loss of advertising.

    Seriously, that's why when I moved I didn't bother getting Sky One again, it was more adverts than content, any of their exclusive content was broadcast months before in the USA, and subsequently available for download advert free - did you know BSG, Prison Break etc aren't actually an hour long?

    So I've got two choices, pay extra for content delivered to me littered with adverts that is months old compared to what our American cousins get... or download it advert free 20 minutes after it's aired in America.

    What I would pay for, is the same content, stripped from adverts - broadcast as released in America and delivered nicely onto my telebox, until then I'll continue to receive the same content at a higher quality for free. It's not piracy, it's economics. (And hell, once it finally get's onto any form of terrestrial, it's covered by my TV licence so it's not even theft.)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Excellent work Branson

    I’d like to congratulate Branson on giving Sky a good kicking!

    I’ve been a Sky viewer for about 5 years now and all I’ve seen is increasing prices every 6 months while the quality of the service has gone down and down.

    More and more channels are pay per view on top of your monthly subscription.

    New services like Sky+ aren’t subsidised for existing customers.

    We “introduced a friend” and never received the £50 worth of promised vouchers and Sky don’t even bother sending us the Sky magazine anymore!

    When we move house later this year we aren’t going to bother having Sky installed and will instead use Freeview, or BT Vision, with the odd spot of p2p to download the latest episodes of Lost and 24!

    It will feel good not funding the Murdoch spin machine any more!

  9. Phil Riley

    Up to date shows

    Whilst admittedly some of the shows on SkyOne are a few months after their US, several are a few days after, or even ahead.

    Lost is shown the Sunday after it is shown in the states; ditto 24. At the moment Sky One are actually ahead of the US for Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis - viewers have been getting the world premiers of these shows.

    We also had the same situation with BSG back int he first series (admittedly we're now several months behind on the third series).

    Given that, and the fact that by the time shows like Lost Series 3 actually reach the VOD market on Virgin (August I beleive), the DVDs will be out, I think Virgin have shot themselves in the foot with this.

  10. Mike Moyle

    I dont't know quite how to tell you this, Lee...

    "What I would pay for, is the same content, stripped from adverts - broadcast as released in America and delivered nicely onto my telebox..."

    ...but if you're getting your hour-long program littered with 17 minutes of ads, you actually *ARE* getting it "as released in America"! It's sort of why people here refer to the TV stations as "commercial broadcasters" as opposed to "public television" (government- and donation-supported broadcasters).

    ...Or am I missing something, here?

  11. Lee Turner

    Poor use of English (Re: Mike's comment)

    Sorry, I was reffering to the timing of their release rather than the finished product.

    Also, I'd like to point out that I do know our TV license doesn't cover TV shows in the way I said, I was just being facetious.

    I also appreciate the many financial difficulties in removing adverts from programs and selling them on at a price a customer will still pay, but as a customer - that's the service I'd like to see.

  12. Alan

    Customer service

    It's clear neither company cares about the customer in what is almost a monopoly on subscription TV services.

    I can't get a Satelite in my building because it's listed so cable was the only way I could receive Sky channels.

    Virgin are about to lose my business but BskyB won't be gaining it. Now or in the future.

    BitTorrent and Peekvid it is from now on.

  13. Mike Moyle

    Ah, I see.

    That's different. Never mind, then. My bad.

    On the other hand: "It's not piracy, it's economics. "

    You've got it wrong, there. You're actually doing them a FAVOR*.

    Any competent SysAdmin will tell you that you should back up your important data and keep one backup off-site in case anything happens to your locally--stored copies.

    Thus, "It's not piracy, it's free off-site archiving."

    * Yeah, yeah... I know... American spelling...

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Ads?

    " also appreciate the many financial difficulties in removing adverts from programs and selling them on at a price a customer will still pay, but as a customer - that's the service I'd like to see."

    That's one of the many benefits of Sky+, have hardly watched an advert since I bought it. Hit pause and put the kettle on to cache a bit or wait for the series link to stack it and watch it whenever. Sure you have to hit fast forward but knocking it off 30x before the sting finishes never gets tired.

    I'm amazed people are buying this nonsense from Virgin - who don't even want to cut their margins to maintain the 3rd rate service they were providing customers let alone move towards a line-up approaching that Sky was doing 5 or 6 years ago.

  15. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    So why is Murdoch allowed to weild such power ?

    Personally I think it's time Sky were told to decide what they want to be - supliers of content, or carriers of it. As it is they have an incentive to screw cable companies etc so as to favour their own satellite service. If they were forced to separate the two, so that the satellite service became just another customer of the content provider, then there would be a means of making sure that cable/whatever customers are charged the same as the satelite customers.

    The sad thing is that a large number of people will just go and sign up for Sky and further enhance the hold of a <insert derogatory term> over the UK broadcast industry.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time to kick Sky into touch

    Do I miss Sky One? Um... no. Let's face it - pretty much everything on there is eminently missable, and if I did care I'd just rent the DVDs from Tesco rental by post like I did with Firefly and The Sweeney.

    The Simpsons? Well that's pretty bad these days and by now I've watched all the good episodes a billion times each. Futurama? That's going to Paramount Comedy next year along with the new episodes ('Woo-Hoo!' as Bender would say). Anything else...? Stargate Atlantis? Lost? The only decent US drama is The Shield and that's on Channel 5! Maybe CSI - where's that again? Oh yeah, Channel 5! (Actually, I don't like CSI - but I don't like it less than I don't like Lost).

    Given a choice between paying more money for more rubbish on Sky, or less money for no new Simpsons episodes... I think I'll go for a Sky free TV.

    Ah well, I always did feel a little dirty lining the pockets of that establishment brown-nosing Fox corporation. The satire of The Simpsons never did quite take away the bad aftertase left behind by knowing I'd just helped out the ruler of the giant Main Stream Media empire that is currently crushing the souls of all of us who dream of living in a fair, open and free democracy.

    Murdoch - you can take away our Sky, but you can never take our freedom!!!!

    P.S. Thanks to Sky, my home town team Bolton Wanderers (or any other team outside the big four) will never have a realistic hope of winning the Premiership ever. Thanks for saving English football, &*%^!%^$.

  17. Ian McNee

    Ofcom indeed...

    Try e-mailing the competition person at Ofcom ( along these lines perhaps:

    Dear Mr Williams

    I am a customer of Virgin Media and my subscription includes their digital cable TV service. The package that I have has until now included various Sky channels including Sky One but as you will be aware these channels have now been removed from Virgin Media apparently due to Sky demanding a large increase in the price that Virgin Media pays for these channels.

    On the face of it this seems to me to be a case of a media company (Sky) attempting to leverage the position of a broadcast medium (satellite) to which the company has exclusive access by preventing content that the company owns the broadcast rights to from being distributed via other media (cable in this case). This surely falls into the remit of Ofcom's specific duties (, namely no. 4: maintaining plurality in the provision of broadcasting.

    I have searched Ofcom's website to see if there is any information as to the action that Ofcom have taken over this anti-competitive and monopolistic practice by Sky but I have not found anything. Finding no useful information on your site regarding making a complaint about Sky's behavior ("If you normally deal with a particular person or team at Ofcom, please contact them directly to discuss your concerns" - actually I'm only an ordinary member of the public, one of the people who contributes to your wages with my income tax, so no I don't normally deal with anyone at Ofcom actually) I thought you would be the best person to e-mail as the Competition Partner on Ofcom's executive.

    So what's the story Mr Williams? This situation has not come out of the blue, it has been know about for weeks or even months. What has Ofcom done about it? What is Ofcom currently doing about it? Or is Ofcom GOING to do anything about it after the fact? Allow me to remind you of one of your own regulatory principles: "Ofcom will intervene where there is a specific statutory duty to work towards a public policy goal which markets alone cannot achieve". Surely the markets have singularly failed to achieve in this instance.

    I look forward to your prompt reply.

    Ian McNee


    p.s. I don't suppose you can get Sky One back on Virgin Media in time for me to see Battlestar Galactica next Tuesday? No? Thought not. Perhaps I should become an opera lover, I hear that Oftenor have more teeth than Ofcom.

  18. Vittal Aithal


    OK, so they're both behaving like kids (which I can sort of understand), but what really hacks me off is all the money we've been paying ntl (and now virgin) which has been going to the coffers of Mr.Murdoch is now going to those of Mr.Branson. So now, I pay for the same lousy service (my former-ntl Samsung STB is the biggest pile of sh*te I've had the misfortune to use), but get less - and presumably will have to pay even more for what I had.

    And off course Virgin Media are really technically capable of running an IPTV on-demand service since they run such a fantastic website (oh, wait... their swanky 'have your shout' pages all appear to be busted when viewed through a VirginMedia broadband line through a VirginMedia transparent proxy).


  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Ofcom indeed...

    Hear hear, this is a (the) fundamental issue that Ofcom should have been addressing for years now (not just " for weeks or even months").

    I fundamentally do not understand the governmental advice that Sky has quoted, saying that the government advised them that they could legitimately purchase up to 20% of another broadcaster. This is ludicrous unless Sky were universally available to everyone. As it is not, it is legalised monopolistic manipulation of a market.

    This said we can no more support Virgin's desire to have bought ITV (although understandable as their only means to compete with Sky) unless they were to maintain separation between the businesses. As has been said, content should be separated from delivery and therefore available across all platforms. Those platforms should then compete on the basis of their transmission costs and other bundlable services (ie. broadband).

  20. Richard Brophy

    Typical really. Sky vsVirgin.

    OK, I miss Sky One already. However, why should I transfer back to Satellite when Sky hav such a appalling customer services record?

    I dare say the tv geeks who miss the Malcolm in the Middle/Simpsons repeats will transfer to Sky because they are missing the 4 tv shows,repeated 3 times a week( Lost, nip Tuck, Battlestar) will make Sky win the day. Most the other shows are reruns.

    If only people would vote with their pockets we might get a fairer deal from Sky/cable. Who knows, maybe Virgin will get their own content and have their own channels?

    What we need in this country is a true competitor to Sky much like British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) were.

    saying this Virgin should compensate it's customers by providing a free PVR instead of charging them £75.00 for it.

  21. Andrew Moore

    Irish TV

    Thanks to Irish terrestrial TV we get nearly all the shows Sky covet (with the exception of BSG) usually before Sky show them- Right now Lost is the only series shown after Sky shows it- 1 day later, though it was 8 days ahead before the break. Okay, people might point out that 24 has got later after the Sky showing but as the later series got worse I don't blame local TV for not treating it as the "major" entertainment that Sky bills it as.

    Another thing I think is amusing- Sky nicked Lost from Channel 4 but are now banging away at how you can get Channel 4 on Sky!?!?!?

    But for what it's worth- Heroes started tonight, on Channel 6. BBC2 are going to show it soon until Sky nicks that from them but Irish terrestrial still beats the punch.

  22. Derek Scott

    Virgin Media

    I phoned Virgin Media via 150 yesterday and was offered the XL package (that I already subscribed to) for £9 rather than the £20.50 original price

    On a different note, if you decide to switch to Sky to get Sky One back (which I'm obviously not going to do) 'you have to' install or already have a BT line.

    Personally I don't miss Sky One it was a bunch of repeats anyway.

  23. Steve Cole

    Sky vs Freeview

    If MotorsTV was on Freeview I would have cancelled my Sky subscription months ago, apart from the odd thing that my Tivo finds on my basic £15 subscription that I find interesting I don't think I would miss such great channels as "The Baby Channel" "The Wine Channel" etc

    Good on you Virgin Media, Sky have taken too much of the market.

    Long live P2P Lost, 24 with HD quality content...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As a Virgin customer who liked sky one, I am delighted with Virgin's stand against sky.

    This is another example of that pan-world parasite murdoch attempting to extend his media-monopoly.

    It is about time he was stamped out, like that other menace - the mosquito.

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