Discovery is at risk of being dropped from Sky’s pay-TV service at the end of January.
Sky and Discovery have become embroiled in a carriage deal dispute.
Discovery says that negotiations between the two have reached an impasse, accusing Sky last night of refusing to pay a fair price for Discovery’s portfolio of channels.
However, Sky boss Jeremy Darroch hit back today. Speaking on an earnings call to journalists, he said: "This is really [about] a difference of opinion on Discovery’s performance.”
"The fact is that their share of viewing in linear has been in long-term decline."
He added: "They are not hitting the sort of big shows that people expect and pay for. I can’t think of one Discovery show in our top 100 shows."
He also said: "The challenges that Discovery has are not restricted to us. TalkTalk didn’t renew their contract with them here in the U.K. I know they have had problems in Germany."
Discovery said Sky’s retail platform strategy is limiting consumer choice and hurting independent broadcasters like itself.
Susanna Dinnage, Managing Director, Discovery Networks UK and Ireland, 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 said it is now paid less by Sky than it was 10 years ago. It said its share of viewing on the Sky platform had increased by more than 20% and that Discovery has also increased investment in original content by more than 30% since 2010, adding new channels to its portfolio including Eurosport, TLC and Investigation Discovery.
The dispute means that all 12 Discovery channels could no longer be on Sky from January 31st.
Dinnage added: “Somebody has to stand up for consumers, because consumers believe they are paying for choice and diversity – they deserve better. Discovery is prepared to take that stand. Pay television needs to be about more than just films and football. The consumer can’t be expected to fund all of Sky’s investments and get less and less choice in return. We are also concerned that with the recently announced Fox transaction, Sky’s market strength and incentive to disadvantage independent TV content providers will only increase.”
“All we ask is that Sky recognise the value we bring to customers and remunerate us fairly so we can continue creating content that inspires and entertains the world,” continued Susanna Dinnage.
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