As if its Keith Olbermann headache isn't bad enough, Current has been told that it will be dropped by BSkyB, Britain's largest cable-TV operator. Sky provided funds for Current's British operations
Sky is part-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. Murdoch scrapped plans to buy Sky outright last summer following the phone-hacking scandal at his British newspaper, the News of the World.
Joel Hyatt, chief executive of Current Media is quoted in the Financial Times. “Sky is shutting down an intelligent alternative to mass market programming. By doing so, Sky is once again discriminating in favor of the networks it owns and the points of view News Corporation agrees with.”
Sky says it was a strictly commercial decision. Current was just one of the 100 channels in its basic pay cable package. Current's top rated single program ever was the 616th most watched out of all Sky's output. In its best prime time ratings month, last November, the channel pulled 4,700 viewers an hour.
Although Current could remain on free view cable platforms, without the revenue from its Sky deal - the figure has not been made public - it may not be possible to keep the local operation afloat. Current's 23-person British staff have been told the station will probably close by mid-March.