Eir Sport pulls channels from Virgin Media as dispute rumbles on

Eir has removed its sports channels from the platforms of Virgin Media in an escalation of the dispute between the Irish telecoms operators.

Eir Sport said in a statement that it had taken the “difficult decision” to remove the content from Virgin Media. The move comes after Virgin Media earlier this month suspended the supply of its sports channels to Eir over a payment dispute.

Last August, Virgin Media and Eir agreed a deal to carry their key sports channels on each other’s television platforms. The deal made Virgin Media Sport available as part of the Eir Sport package, with Eir Sport in turn available to Virgin Media TV customers.

Virgin Media Sport’s rights portfolio includes football’s Uefa Champions League and Europa League. Its decision to suspend the supply of its sports channels to Eir two weeks ago came as the two competitions were in full flow.

Eir said at the time that Virgin had refused to agree to renewed terms in their contract following the Covid-19 shutdown. Virgin Media said that it had suspended its supply of Virgin Media Sport and Virgin Media Sport Extra because Eir has failed to pay the contracted distribution licence fee.

Eir has now taken the decision to pull its content from Virgin Media. Eir’s rights portfolio includes the Pro14 rugby competition, which returned at the weekend following its suspension due to Covid-19.

Eir said in a statement: “While Eir was entitled to immediately suspend the Eir Sport 1 feed due to Virgin Media’s fundamental contract breaches, we are deeply aware of the importance of live sport to viewers, in particular at these difficult times.

“We therefore gave Virgin Media seven days’ notice, in the hope that they would make reasonable efforts to engage and prevent customers being deprived of live sport, including the Pro14 games last weekend. Eir Sport can only pay for sports events that actually take place and we have consistently offered fair terms to Virgin Media.

“Renegotiation on rights fees have been commonplace over the past few months globally as broadcasters and content owners come to fair and reasonable resolutions around the absence of live sport and the curtailed seasons now in place, however Virgin Media has refused to engage on a constructive solution.”