Lucre Triumphs Over Hubris in Virgin-Sky Standoff

06 November 2008

LONDON: The nineteen months standoff between the UK's two American-controlled pay-TV monopolies, BSkyB and Virgin Media, was finally settled this week after the warring parties decided olive branches were a more cost-effective option than executive hubris.

Under pressure both from investors and the credit crunch, corporate minds have become increasingly focused on the untold millions of pounds poured down the drain as a result of the dispute. 

Back in March 2007 Virgin rejected Sky's archetypally Murdochian demand for an increase of around 100% for the privilege of continuing to carry Sky channels on its cable platform.

As a result, Sky lost mucho moolah that had hitherto flowed from Virgin's echoing coffers, while the latter's subscribers, deprived of their Sky fixes, decamped in their thousands.

Mutual vituperation and legal action followed, the latter waddling its torpid course through the mediaeval byways of the English legal system until an out-of-court deal was struck this week. 

Sweetness and light now reigns, with both sides asking the High Court for permission to cease all legal action.

Cooed Virgin Media ceo Neil Berkett: "I believe this agreement represents a fair deal and is the right thing for our customers. We recognise the quality and popularity of Sky's channels and look forward to welcoming them back to Virgin Media's TV service."

Responding in like vein BSkyB ceo Jeremy Darroch declared: "We want our channels to be enjoyed by as many people as possible so we're delighted to secure their return to the Virgin Media platform."

Or as Shakespeare's Richard II declared: "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."

Data sourced from Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff