Sky wave the white flag at the Beeb
That’s the sound of the retreat.
Sky are to pull Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky Three from the Freeview platform in order to use the space for pay-per-view football and films.
I’m not personally worried by the loss of the latter two, but the absence of Sky News from Freeview is bad news all round.
The channel’s been on the slide ever since its expensive revamp in 2005, culminating in the loss of the channel’s boss, Nick Pollard. BBC News 24 has pulled ahead in the ratings, largely thanks to cross-promotion from BBC One and the increased number of recognisable ‘faces’ on the channel, such as Huw Edwards and Ben Brown.
But the news that Sky News is to retreat from such a popular platform (almost certainly losing a large percentage of its viewers) suggests Sky has little faith in the future of their news operation. The latest figures from BARB suggest 9% of the population see a bit of Sky News every week – but only being available on Sky and Cable will probably reduce this substantially.
Sky News also has incredibly low advertising rates – they’re not exactly rolling in cash, even if the channel’s a bit of a loss-leader for the Sky brand.
But it’s not just bad news for Sky. The demise of the ITV News Channel in 2005 was bad enough, as it was just becoming half-decent when it was killed off. But soon there will be little competition for BBC News 24. And not even the most ardent of BBC fans want to see an end to the rivalry between the two.
It’s not good for journalists, and it’s not good for viewers.