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Monday, February 05, 2007

Artsworld to rebrand as SkyArts

It is becoming more and more difficult to brand Sky as low-brow.

The latest and greatest part of the turnaround is the planned rebrand of Artsworld. I don’t think anyone can argue about commitment since Sky saved Artsworld from extinction. It has ploughed money into the channel, withdrawn the monthly fee – it is now part of the "Style & Culture" bundle. I thought at the time of the takeover that Sky was merely paying a “toff’s tax”, but the ongoing investment has made me revise my initial thoughts and now I think it is part of the grand scheme of Sky’s strategy in throwing out bait to catch the Long Tail and addict them to the wonder of the network: Opera and Ballet, are not my cup of tea, however I enjoy watching The Book Show especially now as I can Sky+ it and watch it at my leisure. I also think it is incredibly important that classic films are converted into a HD (High Definition) format. I totally support the sponsorship of the BFI, although I think the initial choice of movies leave a little to be desired.

It seems slightly ironic that the BBC output seems to be becoming more and more limited to BBC Four which although produces fantastic documentaries does not compare to Artsworld in depth of coverage. Melvyn Bragg seems to be desperately trying to find an output for the vast archives of The South Bank Show at ITV, perhaps the new minority shareholder might be able to help out. Channel4 seems to be focusing on antagonism rather than art at the moment. Who knows about Virgin Media plans? But to me throwing a man out of an aeroplane dressed in a wedding dress is not supporting the Arts.

And the best is that Artsworld becomes SkyArts HD. This is perhaps a sign that the Long Tail of Art afficiando's can be profitable and does not require a Public Service Broadcasting remit.