Sky and Virgin make friends in UK broadcasting shake-up

Digital TV may be the sexy industry de nos jours, or one of them, but today’s deal twixt Sky and Virgin Media actually goes back to basics.

Sky has bought Virgin’s programme-making business for £160m in return for giving Virgin Media access to all Sky’s channels for less money.

So it’s how it all started; Virgin (which encompasses the old NTL and TeleWest cable businesses, the reason why your road was dug up all those years ago) has agreed a truce with Sky, which gets its feed from dishes on the side of the house.

And that’s it.

This deal could really have been done about ten years ago and saved everyone a lot of money.

The issue for Sky and Virgin now (and they’re still separate companies) is how to grab more ratings and boost their advertising take.

The simple answer would be to buy Channel Five from RTL. That would add about ten per cent in ratings to the five or so Sky and Virgin have between them.

New Sky boss Jeremy Darroch, the finance director under previous boss James Murdoch, is a pragmatist.

So how much are you going to pay for Five Jeremy?

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