Current TV to shut on Sky
14.16 Europe/London, January 11, 2012 By Julian Clover
The future of the UK arm of Current TV is in doubt after BSkyB withdrew its support for the channel.
A statement from the Al Gore-backed broadcaster’s London office said the entire team was devastated by the news. The channel, which is also carried by Virgin Media, seems likely to close on March 11.
“Sky is shutting down an intelligent alternative to mass market programming,” said Joel Hyatt, chief executive, Current Media, who founded the channel with Gore. “By doing so, Sky is once again discriminating in favour of the networks it owns and the points of view News Corporation agrees with.”
“Despite investing significantly in Current TV since its UK launch in 2006, the channel simply hasn’t made the impact with our customers that we’d hoped for,” said Rob Webster, Sky’s commercial director. “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.”
UK audience figures for the third quarter of 2011 show Current to hold a modest 1% weekly reach, towards the bottom of the pile, but still ahead of other channels on the Barb panel including Fox TV on 0.7%.
It is the second time in recent months that a News Corp-backed satellite platform has withdrawn carriage for Current TV. In May, Current accused News Corp of political interference after Sky Italia dropped the channel from its EPG. The broadcaster said Current had asked for an increase in carriage fees while its primetime audiences had fallen away.