Sky has announced a major content initiative that will be available to 21 million customers across Europe.

The broadcaster is creating the Sky Arts Production Hub, a commissioning and production centre of excellence based in Milan, dedicated to creating arts programming for Sky customers across Europe. Italy was chosen because of its worldwide reputation for creativity, production quality and talent.

Content made in Milan will be seen on Sky Arte in Italy, on Sky Arts in the UK and Ireland and new Sky Arts launches for Germany and Austria. The content will be in addition to that commissioned locally.

Jeremy Darroch, Group Chief Executive, Sky said: “Bringing the three Sky businesses together has opened up the opportunity to create new and exciting content on a greater scale. As an international company, we can raise our ambition and make a bigger impact for millions of customers across Europe.

The first commission is Sky Arts Photographer of the Year in 2016. Opening for entries later this year, the competition will bid to find the best amateur photographer in Europe, spanning all forms of the medium. It will be judged by a jury composed of some of the leading lights from the world of photography, and, says Sky, will offer the biggest prize of any photography competition in Europe.

In the UK, Sky Arts will relaunch on June 9, dropping a channel but gaining an enhanced VOD service and better placed channel number.