Branson: "Not prepared to rip off customers"
Characterising the breakdown in talks between the two companies as an attempt by Sky to monopolise the television marketplace, Branson said that Virgin Media was "not prepared to rip off" its customers.
Branson's letter in full:
Sky's the limit
Let's face it. Things would be pretty boring if choice didn't exist. There'd be just one kind of airline to fly with. One type of car to drive. And if Sky had their way, there'd only be one place to get TV.
We thought we'd let you in on a few tricks they've been trying to get their way.
- While we've continued to make Virgin Media channels like Living, Bravo and Challenge available to all Sky customers, Sky may withdraw their non-premium channels from Virgin Media's service – in order to force you into switching service.
- Virgin Media were willing to pay an increase in costs in order to get the complete range of Sky content and channels.
- However, Sky has consistently made demands that bear no relation to their channels' market value.
- We have refused to accept these demands, since it would mean absorbing significant costs ourselves, and passing price increases to our customers that are simply unfair. We are not prepared to rip off our customers.
So Sky have picked up their ball and gone home.
As a Virgin company, we're well used to the attempts of large corporations trying to manipulate markets, stifle competition and rip off consumers.
Luckily, we don't think Sky's the limit.
We think the future's full of fresh entertainment and communication possibilities. And we're looking forward to bringing them to you. With all the freedom and choice you deserve.
We've launched Virgin Central, a revolutionary type of TV channel, where programmes start and stop when you say so. This is only available on Virgin Media, since Sky don't have the technology to be able to transmit it. What's more, it's available to every single one of our digital TV customers.
And there's our unique on demand library. A giant collection of over 500 films, 1000 music videos, 100s of TV shows – all at your beck and call. You can access them at any time.
We're not scared of competition, we welcome it.