Peace talks fuel hopes Discovery will keep channels on Sky ahead of midnight showdown

Last-ditch peace talks have broken out between Discovery and Sky, fuelling hopes that a deal can be done to stop Discovery pulling its 12 channels from the Sky platform before a midnight deadline tonight.

Discovery: posts a message to fans on its Facebook page
Discovery: posts a message to fans on its Facebook page

Sources told Campaign that the two sides are back in negotiation about Discovery’s carriage deal after a public war of words.

But in a sign of the gravity of the dispute, Andrew Griffith, Sky's group chief operating officer, told Campaign: "It would be wrong to think that this is one of those dynamics where we all have a little dust-up and then three weeks later it all comes back [with Discovery’s channels returning]."

He was speaking on Friday, and it is understood Discovery and Sky have been in intense negotiation since the weekend in a renewed search for a compromise.

Discovery and Sky declined to comment on the prospects for a deal.

Discovery went public last Wednesday when it accused Sky of abusing its "dominant" position in an explosive statement and said it planned to pull its channels by midnight on 31 January if it did not receive a fair price.

Sky insisted it needed to negotiate hard because Discovery’s viewing figures have declined over the last decade, although Discovery pointed out its audiences were hit by a change to the electronic programme guide and they have risen since 2010.

If Discovery and Sky fail to reach an agreement on their carriage deal, Sky Media is expected to continue selling ads for Discovery because that arrangement is separate.

Discovery’s plan to pull its channels, which include Discovery Channel, TLC, Eurosport and Animal Planet, has prompted an outcry on social media, with hundreds of viewers complaining about the move with the hashtag keepdiscovery and urging the two sides to make peace.