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
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.