Viewers of that FLEETING Twenty-First Century Phenomenon, TELEVISION, will probably know that there has been a bit of a FALLING OUT between two of the PYGMIES of British Broadcasting: "Virgin Media" (the cable people) and "BSkyB" (the satellite dish people).
Up until Wednesday, if you were a cable person you could watch SOME of the satellite people's programmes. Now you can't.
Apparently, this is because Sky wanted more money and Virgin didn't think they were worth it.
I will declare an interest: I do not watch Sky television. I do not LIKE Sky television. I will not let Daddy have one of their space-woks stuck to the side of my flat!
[R: not that we want one.]
We quickly got bored with Battleham Galacticake so we don't even watch the free one, Sky Three. I do not like Sky. They have a few decent shows, but they get them unfairly cheap because of their links to Fox in America. Their news channel is ugly and brash and has a right-wing agenda. And they are part of a group – News International – that has gone out of its way to spoil and cheapen newspapers and television. And they have too much influence already.
So, funnily enough – and despite Virgin Media being run by self-aggrandising beardy billionaire Sir Branson Pickle – I don’t have much SYMPATHY with one of the sides in this dispute.
Still, they DO seem to be going out of their way to be annoying. Rather than negotiations, it would appear that Sky have spent the last few days writing big letters to place in all the newspapers, saying how MUCH they love telly and how much they want to bring their "great shows" like "brand new" Simpsons, Lost, 24 and Battleham Galacticake.
We have increased our investment in channels and programmes by 68% they say! (Does this mean that "Hogfather" was FOUR hours long instead of THREE?)
They say that this is why they have provided the top 25 most watch pay-channel programmes in cable homes this year. Although personally (and remembering that "Torchwood" was hailed as the "most watched non-sport digital-channel show" when its launch double bill scored 2.3 millions) I suspect that it is because they have BOUGHT ALL the FOOTBALL.
Sky say that it is ALL Virgin's fault for dropping their channels, as only Virgin can choose what is on their cable.
(I am sure that the Sky people felt the same when they dropped the BBC news from their satellite in the '90s at the behest of the Chinese government.)
The Sky people tried SOOOOO hard to make a deal – they say – even "including proposing a way for Sky to retail channels directly to cable customers in a way that would cost Virgin Media nothing."
Hang on, Sky is saying that they want Virgin to supply and maintain the cables so that Sky can sell their channels and take ALL the money themselves. I wonder why Virgin did not agree to this idea!
Actually, this is not an unfamiliar Sky strategy. Sky have already announced that they will be PULLING their programmes from the FREEVIEW package too, although they spin replacing free telly with a pay-to-view service as "bringing their top shows to terrestrial digital". In this case, Sky want the BBC to play patsy – maintaining the transmitter network for Sky to cream off the profits.
In fact, for people who profess to LOVE television, they have made an AWFUL LOT OF EFFORT over the years to STOP PEOPLE WATCHING: what with grabbing exclusive broadcasts for themselves and trying to deny other channels access to their satellites or burying their channel listings.
You could be forgiven for thinking that when they say "competition keeps us on our toes" they actually mean "we want to see the competition sleeping with the fishes"! Particularly since in 1999 News International were found guilty of anti-competitive practices by the Office of Fair Trade.
Still, I'm sure Virgin Viewers were VERY upset to lose Thursday evening's quadruple bill of "The Simpsons" followed by three hours of reheated American imports about (a) a pathologist and a cop, (b) a fireman, and (c) a team of cops and pathologists.
And this weekend they will be forced to live without Saturday's Primetime offering of a double bill of "
"Kelly Osbourne hosts a search for Britain's hottest new designer, aided by fashion gurus including Julien Macdonald and Ben de Lisi."
How will the Virgin viewers cope without THAT!
[*]Okay, "Futurama" is actually very good – but you can get ALL four seasons of it on DVD; not sure how "brand new" that makes it!