Sky, Virgin resolve carriage row

Sky channels return to Virgin after 20-month absence

LONDON -- Burying the hatchet after almost two years, BSkyB and Virgin Media announced Tuesday that they have agreed to a carriage deal that will see such shows as "Lost" and "Are You Smarter Than a Ten Year Old" back in Virgin's 3.6 million cable TV homes after a 20-month absence.

The carriage deal, which goes live Nov. 13 and extends to June 2011, covers Sky1, Sky2, Sky3, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2.

The agreement follows two years of acrimony between the U.K.'s biggest pay TV operators that saw Virgin Media customers quit the platform in anger at not being able to receive some of their favorite U.S. shows on Sky1. BSkyB, meanwhile, lost millions of pounds of carriage and advertising revenue after audiences for its basic channels dropped from 11.5 million to 8.5 million.

BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said the agreement was "great news."

"We want our channels to be enjoyed by as many people as possible, so we're delighted to secure their return to the Virgin Media platform," he said in a statement.

Virgin Media CEO Neil Berkett said the agreement is "a fair deal" and "the right thing for our customers."

As part of the same agreement, the two companies have dropped the pending legal action between them and extended Sky's existing carriage deal to offer Virgin channels including Living, Living 2, Bravo, Bravo 2, Trouble, Challenge and Virgin 1 to its 9 million customers through 2011.