February 08, 2007

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.

- 4 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Nooo! No Sky Sports News on Freeview? That means no Gillette Soccer Saturday on Freeview any more, which means Freeview viewers will instead have to put up with the BBC’s rather more crap Saturday football coverage.

    08 Feb 2007, 23:31

  2. blamerbell

    Eh? What happened to Chris ‘I sometimes blog about football, really I do’ Doidge?

    Snow snow snow snow snow snow snow snow. Even Bob went home early.

    09 Feb 2007, 22:13

  3. Martin

    Yeah… I’m really shedding tears at the loss of another 24 hour news channel which, though it provides jobs, denigrates journalism by suggesting it’s superficial. I’d be willing to wager 24 hour rolling news has the same level of professional trust as tabloid journalism.

    09 Feb 2007, 22:23

  4. Simon Cox

    Sky are pulling their free services from Freeview because they want people to pay to watch their content. Its the same with all there ‘free’ channels and has been a long term ploy of theirs for getting the public dependent on their channels – hence all the furore about them doubling the price of their services to Virgin and Branson not cowtailing to their demands. Have you ever wondered about the impartiality of Sky News? Another news channel in the Murdoch stable is Fox News and that has a serious reputation problem..

    22 Mar 2007, 09:59

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