MILAN: Sky, the pay TV broadcaster, is moving to develop pan-European television programming with a focus on the arts.

Towards the end of last year Sky completed the acquisitions of Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland to create a group serving 20m customers across five countries: Italy, Germany, Austria, the UK and Ireland.

It has now launched the Sky Arts Production Hub, a commissioning and production centre of excellence based in Milan that will focus on "producing pan-European events that will unite international audiences in a unique celebration of the arts". The first of these events will see it launch a competition to find the best amateur photographer in Europe.

The Hub will also produce a wide slate of arts programming for customers across all Sky territories in addition to content commissioned locally.

"Bringing the three Sky businesses together has opened up the opportunity to create new and exciting content," said Jeremy Darroch, Sky group chief executive, adding that the move "underlines our ambition to invest at scale in even more of our own original content".

The Financial Times noted that the bulk of Sky's annual £4.6bn expenditure on content currently goes on securing broadcast rights to sports events, an area where it is facing rising costs and increased competition.

Against the £4.2bn it recently spent to show 126 matches a season from the English Premier League over the next three years, the €18m allocated to funding its new arts hub is small beer – and part of that will come from the closure of its Sky Arts 2 channel in the UK, although the relaunched Sky Arts channel in the UK and Ireland will see programming investment increased by 10%.

It has been suggested that Sky's move will put it into competition with the likes of Netflix, the streaming service which has invested heavily in original content, but an amateur photographer competition falls some way short of Kevin Spacey's turn in House of Cards.

Data sourced from Sky, Financial Times, BBC; additional content by Warc staff