LONDON — Sky has gone on the attack in its extraordinary war of words with Discovery.
The dispute erupted on Wednesday, when, in a highly unusual move, Discovery threatened to remove its channels from the Sky television platform.
It claimed Sky is not willing to pay a “fair price” to carry its channels. Sky bit back on Thursday, arguing Discovery’s price demands are “completely unrealistic.”
In a fresh statement on Friday, Sky said Discovery is demanding £1 billion to carry its channels. The broadcaster said it published the figure because it is “time to set the record straight.”
Discovery did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
On Thursday, it claimed that Sky is paying less for its channels, which include Eurosport and TLC, than it was a decade ago. In that time, Discovery said its share of viewing on the Sky platform has grown more than 20%. Sky, on the other hand, has argued the channels are in “long-term decline.”
Discovery Networks UK managing director Susanna Dinnage said: “We believe Sky is using what we consider to be its dominant market position to further its own commercial interest over those of viewers and independent broadcasters. The vitality of independent broadcasters like Discovery and plurality in TV is under threat.”
Discovery has also claimed it has the support of viewers. It said the #keepdiscovery hashtag has gained a reach of 47 million on Twitter. A spokesman said: “We at Discovery are hugely humbled by the public support for our channels. The reaction from viewers and celebrities is staggering and we are really grateful.”
Sky statement in full:
“We have worked really hard for more than a year to get a deal done for our customers with Discovery, so we are disappointed with their misleading claims and aggressive actions. We now feel it’s time to set the record straight. Because despite our differences, we love Discovery too.
“We were prepared to pay a fair price for the Discovery and Eurosport channels and invest more in those channels to make them even better for our customers. We have offered hundreds of millions of pounds to Discovery, a $12bn American business, but that wasn’t enough. They asked the Sky Group to pay close to £1bn for their portfolio of channels, many of which are in decline.
“Sadly, we have now had to prepare for Discovery to take their channels away from Sky customers, as they have threatened to do. It is Discovery’s choice to do this, not ours. We never left the negotiating table and they haven’t come back to it since they made their threats public this week.
“Sky doesn’t boot channels off our platform. If Discovery don’t want their channels to disappear, as their public campaign suggests, they could have made arrangement to stay on Sky, including free to air with advertising funding or with their own subscription, but they have chosen not to do so.
“Our commitment to our customers is this: We will spend every penny that we were going to pay to Discovery on more and better content that our customers value. This will come from sources around the globe and home grown shows and documentaries from the UK. We will continue to offer customers a huge range of content including hundreds of shows from The History Channel, National Geographic, PBS, Sky Arts and Sky Atlantic, along with more amazing sport on Sky Sports Mix, available to all our customers.
“We hope our customers understand that we have been working on their behalf and will always do that. We thank them for their support.”
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