Sky flexes its public service broadcasting credentials with Freeview launch this September, but on-demand programmes from Sky Arts will continue to be exclusive to Sky and Now TV subscribers.
Coinciding with the free-to-air switch, the channel will launch a new slate of original programmes, including new monthly arts and culture show Sky Arts Late and a new series that sees Danny Dyer explorer the works of Harold Pinter.
As part of the broadcaster’s commitment to the arts, bursaries worth £30,000 each will see leading figures from the arts support and mentor diverse and emerging new artists.
The free-to-air move was welcomed by Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage who said she was “delighted” that Sky Arts was “opening up its vast array of programming to the nations’ living rooms”.
An exact launch date in September and availability on other free-to-air platforms has not yet been confirmed. RXTV Info has approached both Sky and Freeview for comment.
While the main Sky Arts channel will become free-to-air, Sky and Now TV customers will continue to have exclusive access to catch-up and on-demand content, as part of their subscription, in the same way that on-demand programmes from Sky’s Pick and Challenge channels are available to subscribers only.
Programmes coming to Sky Arts
- Landmark, a bold and ambitious series for 2021 where artists and local communities across the UK will join forces in a quest to create the next great British landmark, in response to the current debate about the meaning of public monuments, and who or what is commemorated.
- Portrait Artist of the Week, the live-streamed paint-along version of the channel’s flagship series ‘Portrait Artist of the Year’, has been confirmed to return this Autumn both on Sky TV’s Facebook page and Sky Arts, following its huge success during lockdown. Complementing this, Portrait Artist of the Year will return at the same time, with new celebrity sitters including Normal People’s Paul Mescal, First Dates front-of-house Fred Sirieux, singer Ray BLK and Sir Trevor McDonald.
- Goldie: The Art That Made Me: Renowned visual artist and musician Goldie goes on a personal and passionate journey into the world of graffiti and street art.
- Danny Dyer on Pinter, sees Dyer explore the life and works of Harold Pinter and tell the story of their unlikely friendship.
- Sky Arts Late, a new monthly arts and culture show creating a feature-length space for original perspectives, debate, critical discussion, and performance from across the arts.
- English National Opera’s Drive & Live, a world-first exclusive broadcast of the ENO’s drive-in opera performance of La Bohème.
- No Masks, A brand new drama from Theatre Royal Stratford East based on the real-life testimonies of key workers in East London during the pandemic.
- Life & Rhymes, A celebration of spoken word hosted by Benjamin Zephaniah, featuring some of the country’s leading spoken word performers.
- Inside Art, presented by Kate Bryan, will explore leading exhibitions across the UK, starting with the Walker Gallery’s major exhibition of Linda McCartney’s photography.
- Brian Johnson meets Dave Grohl, the AC/DC frontman hangs out and chats at the Foo Fighters’ studio in Los Angeles.
Making the announcement, Philip Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts said:
“As a free to air channel I hope that Sky Arts can help arts organisations and cultural institutions of all shapes and sizes across the UK, providing them with a platform to create and showcase their work to a broad audience. With our renewed focus and mission to increase accessibility and participation across the arts, we want to hear from everyone with ideas for how we might be able to work together – we can only succeed with artists and creatives at the heart of what we do.”
The launch comes as Ofcom prepares to review public service broadcasting in the UK, with Sky previously highlighting how it sees itself as providing a public service, without having the status and benefits of a public service broadcaster.
Ed Walton | RXTV Newsdesk