U.K. channel Artsworld hasn’t sung its swan song yet. The 20-month-old arts and culture digicaster was close to going off the air, but pay-TV provider British Sky Broadcasting stepped in to keep it on, at least temporarily. (Sky Digital carries Artsworld.)
The problem is a lack of cash. On July 11, the channel issued this statement: ‘Artsworld has not been able to secure the further funding necessary to continue operating. By closing the channel now, the company is in a position to honor its obligations to creditors and staff. However, it remains possible that a purchaser or new investor may come forward.’
BSkyB did not take on either of those roles, but did offer enough support to prevent Artsworld’s planned closure at the end of July. Says a BSkyB spokesperson, ‘We are very pleased that Artsworld is continuing. We believe it’s a valuable addition to the range of services available to Sky Digital viewers, and for that reason we’re happy to be able to support the channel going forwards. We hope it is able to resolve its funding requirements on a long-term basis very soon.’ At press time, Artsworld chief executive John Hambley was in talks with potential investors.
The channel’s reprieve is good news to arts producers and distributors. ‘We were very sad to hear the news of [Artsworld's] impending shutdown and greatly relieved to hear of their survival,’ says Jane Small, director of international television for London-based prodco Eagle Vision. Eagle has sold several programs to Artsworld, including George Benson – Absolutely Live and The Chieftains – Live over Ireland – Water from the Well.
Small continues: ‘Artsworld is a vital addition to the multi-channel environment. Not only does it run an interesting and approachable schedule of opera, jazz, classical music and programming in the broader arts arena, it also provides a welcome counterbalance to the plethora of repeat-based and easy-watching channels.’