Discovery faced with fresh carriage dispute in Europe

Media and entertainment company Discovery Communications is faced with another carriage dispute after pan-European pay-television operator M7 Group said it will stop providing Discovery channels through its platforms by the end of the month if talks over a new deal do not come to a satisfactory conclusion.

M7 operates pay-television platforms in the Benelux region (CanalDigitaal, TV Vlaaderen, TéléSat, Online.nl), Czech Republic and Slovakia (Skylink), Austria (HD Austria) and Germany (M7 Deutschland).

The channels offered vary by country, but include sports broadcaster Eurosport.

“The proposed new carriage fees are doubling the already substantial amounts Discovery Networks charges us today for carrying their channels in our various pay-TV bouquets,” Hans Troelstra, chief executive of M7 Group, said, according to the Broadband TV News website. “These amounts are out of proportion, especially considering the average performance of these channels in their markets.”

Eurosport holds key sports rights such as the Olympic Games and football’s Bundesliga in Germany. Troelstra added: “In our markets this newly acquired content for the Olympic Games will be syndicated to the public channels or will be available via their Eurosport free-to-air channel.”

M7 said that if a new deal is not reached by the end of April it has a back-up plan in place which will provide customers with content in similar genres, without any forced price increase. It added that capacity freed up by the removal of Discovery channels will be used for adding both new channels and converting a number of existing highly-viewed channels from SD into HD picture quality.

In January, Discovery and Sky agreed a new carriage deal allowing Discovery's Eurosport channels to stay on Sky's platforms in the UK and Germany. Discovery had threatened to pull its channels from international pay-television broadcaster Sky and its video-streaming service, Now TV, due to a carriage dispute.

Discovery had accused Sky of using its “dominant market position to further its own commercial interest over those of viewers and independent broadcasters” while Sky had claimed Discovery’s price demands were “completely unrealistic”.