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eir Sport removes its sports content from Virgin Media's platforms

eir Sport removes its sports content from Virgin Media's platforms

Virgin Media subscribers will no longer have access to eir Sport due to an ongoing dispute between the broadcasters over rights fees.

eir Sport announced their plans to remove their sports content from Virgin Media's platforms this evening.

In a statement, eir said they've made the decision after giving "Virgin Media seven days' notice, in the hope that they would make reasonable efforts to engage."

Eir has argued that they can "only pay for sports events that actually take place and we have consistently offered fair terms to Virgin Media." They also claim that Virgin Media has "refused to engage on a constructive solution" when it comes to the renegotiation of rights fees.

Virgin Media has since replied by saying: "Virgin Media are very disappointed with eir’s decision. The sporting schedule continues across Virgin Media channels including the Heineken Champions Cup, The Six Nations, the UEFA Nations League as well as the return of next seasons Champions League and Europa League coverage."

Virgin Media have the rights to Champions League, Europa League and UEFA Nations League action, while eir Sport screen the PRO14 as well as League of Ireland and National League GAA games.

A few weeks ago, Virgin Media Sports pulled the plug on its coverage of Atletico Madrid v RB Leipzig for eir Sport viewers nineteen minutes into the game, saying eir had not paid its "contract distribution license fee."

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At the time, Virgin Media said: "We have suspended our supply of Virgin Media Sport and Virgin Media Sport Extra to eir Sport because eir has failed to pay the contracted distribution licence fee."

Regarding the latest development, eir has issued the following statement today:

"eir Sport has today taken the difficult decision to remove its sport content from Virgin Media's platforms, two weeks after Virgin Media suddenly and unilaterally withdrew the Virgin Media Sports feed from eir and its customers.

"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 particulate 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 PRO 14 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 solutions around the absence of live sport and the curtailed seasons now in place, however, Virgin Media has refused to engage on a constructive solution.

The Irish Independent previously reported that the disputed figure is in the region of "seven-figure sums".

Paul Moore

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