Monday, March 12, 2007

Sky vs NTL 

I posted something similar to this on my NewsShopper blog recently. I thought it could do with an airing here as well...

Another thing on my mind is the stupid problems between Sky and Virgin Media (or whatever they are called this week).

They have thrown all of their toys out of the pram and are now not talking to each other. Anyone wanting to watch Sky channels through cable television now cannot do so.

This means no more Lost and, worse, no more Battlestar Galactica!

Yes, I am that shallow.

I rarely watch television in my own house and when I do I watch programmes broadcast on Sky One. I have been following the excellent Lost and the even more excellent Battlestar Galactica since they started. They are currently both in the middle of their third seasons with tense and gripping storylines.

I am disappointed but not surprised by this turn of events. I first took up cable television when the service was run by a company called Nynex. Soon after they were bought by Cable and Wireless and then NTL. They merged with Telewest and the other month, they became part of Sir Richard's little empire.

Whatever the name of the company, I have never been impressed by their standards of customer service. Take as an example, the time I moved house, about four years ago. Foolishly, I wanted to take my cable account with me and get broadband at the same time.

I gave them plenty of warning but the installation at the new house was a catalogue of disasters culminating in me waiting 10 weeks for the broadband service to work. I needed a CD and they could not manage to put one in the post for all that time.

The cowboys they had sent round for that installation were more interested in going out clubbing that evening than doing their job. Bits of my house were broken, sockets weren't properly attached to the walls. The installation had also been canceled by them by a letter which didn't arrive until the day the installation was supposed to happen. It only did happen because I called them and was very rude to the poor girl who happened to take my call.

So, to find that only a few short months after Virgin have taken over the service, that the few programs I watch on their television service are now unavailable, is not a surprise.

Now I face a dilemma. Should I cancel now or wait to see if the children will talk together again?

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Being pedantic, I think Sir Richard only owns about 12% of Virgin Media, but they've gone with the Virgin branding because, frankly, NTL's own branding has as good a reputation as Herod's First Born Nanny Service.

Sir Richard and Murdoch hate each other; the two companies also have rather different ways of doing business (Virgin, in the open; Sky, in the dark) which doesn't help ease negotiations.

I think you might as well put the downpayment on those Battlestar Galactica boxsets!
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