Sky Sports News to go subscription-only

BSkyB is to pull its Sky Sports News channel from free-to-air TV and replace it with a time-shifted version of its existing Freeview channel, Sky3.

Sky Sports News: channel to become subscription-only
Sky Sports News: channel to become subscription-only

The move, scheduled for later this summer, is a further shift towards subscription for the pay-TV broadcaster, which currently broadcasts three separate channels on free-to-air TV: Sky News, Sky Sports News and Sky3.

Sky Sports News will only be available on subscription to Sky, Virgin Media and Talk Talk customers. A spokesman for BSkyB said there were no implications for Sky News, which will continue to be available on Freeview.

Sky is to launch Sky Sports News HD, its fifth sports channel in high definition, later this year, and the Sky spokesman said the additional subscription revenue would allow the channel to offer a richer and broader coverage of sports news.

Barney Francis, managing director of Sky Sports, said: "Sky Sports News has been a great success over the past 12 years and we have big ambitions to make it even better. As part of a subscription service, customers can look forward to expanded coverage and the launch of Europe's first HD sports news service."

On Tuesday, it emerged that News Corporation had proposed a possible offer of 700p per share for the 60.9% of BSkyB it does not already own. The independent directors of BSkyB said the offer undervalued the business, but have agreed to cooperate as News Corp seeks regulatory approval for the deal.

News Corporation subsidiary News International closed its Timesonline.co.uk website on Tuesday, as part of a move towards a subscription model for its new The Times and The Sunday Times websites later this month.

When Sky announced plans to buy Virgin Media's stable of channels on 4 June, it chose not to licence the Virgin brand, which leaves the future of Freeview channel Virgin1 unclear.

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