Current UK may close after Sky decision

UK non-fiction channel Current TV is facing potential closure after pay-TV platform Sky confirmed today it would not be renewing its contract with the network.
January 11, 2012

UK non-fiction channel Current TV is facing potential closure after pay-TV platform Sky confirmed today it would not be renewing its contract with the network.

The channel has struggled with ratings in the UK and, according to Sky, “hasn’t made the impact with our customers that we’d hoped for.” The platform is still offering to carry the Current channel, but only on a free-to-air basis.

Rob Webster, Sky’s group commercial director, explained: “Content is at the heart of Sky’s business and we’re committed to investing in the cut-through programming that matters most to our customers. We already spend more than £350 million a year with pay channel partners, but we need to make this investment work hard in delivering high-quality, pay-exclusive content that gives customers more reasons to subscribe.

“On the basis that Current TV hasn’t made the impact with our customers that we’d hoped for, we’ve decided not to renew our retail relationship. But as an open platform that helps many hundreds of channels reach more than 10 million Sky homes, Current TV still has a great opportunity to reach more than one in three UK and Irish homes. Should they choose to do so, we wish them well.”

Current, which launched in the UK in 2007, still broadcasts in the territory on Virgin Media and online, but without Sky’s income may be unable to support its operations.

In a statement, a Current TV spokeswoman said: “We were led to believe that BSkyB had a genuine interest in supporting an independent channel, but at the last minute they informed us that they were not renewing Current’s contract.

“This decision by BSkyB will result in the shutting down of an insightful, inspirational and challenging alternative to mass-market programming.”

The network says it has informed Current staff, contractors, and independent producers that the channel could close as early as mid-March of this year.  The channel is looking at other options to stay on air.

The news comes after Current TV’s Italian network was last year dropped by Sky Italia, amid a row that Current characterized at the time as being political.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news editor at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joined the RS team in 2015 with experience in journalism following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and with communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.