Virgin Media customers have been left incensed after UKTV channels including Dave and Gold were wiped from “around four million” boxes due to a business dispute.
Some viewers said they were cancelling their subscriptions, while others threatened to abandon the digital cable TV provider if the channels were not restored.
Talks between the firms failed to solve an impasse over fees and ten channels, including five which are free-to-air, disappeared from subscribers’ televisions at midnight on Saturday.
Viewers were also left unable to access UKTV on-demand services via their Virgin Media sets.
One Twitter user said: “@virginmedia @UKTV Will be cancelling TV, broadband & all phones as soon as we can get through to someone at Virgin! Think they might be busy with a lot of angry customers.”
Another said: “@virginmedia So this looks like the end, 15 years a customer and you’ve messed up big time. Sky shop Wednesday unless you fix it #SaveDave.”
Free-to-air channels Dave, Drama, Home, Really and Yesterday, along with paid-for channels Gold, Alibi, Eden, Good Food and W, were replaced yesterday morning.
It leaves fans of shows including Red Dwarf, Taskmaster, Judge Romesh and Harrow unable to watch some of their favourite programmes as a result of the dispute.
Virgin Media has accused the broadcaster of seeking “inflated sums” to provide its paid channels.
David Bouchier, the cable TV firm’s chief digital entertainment officer, said they were ready to restore UKTV’s free channels “immediately” with its permission.
UKTV chief executive Darren Childs said it could not accept the “drastic” cut in price that Virgin was seeking to show the paid channels on its pay-to-view service.
According to UKTV, “around four million households” were no longer able to access the channels after the midnight deadline passed.
The ten channels are still available on other television platforms including Sky, BT and Talk Talk, as well as Freeview and Freesat. Viewers can also watch them online via UKTV Play.