Sky backs National Trust in £1m sponsorship deal

LONDON – BSkyB is hoping to reach new regional audiences by investing £1m in sponsoring the National Trust over two years and commissioning a slate of programmes on the conservation group.

Sky will sponsor the National Trust's family programme, which includes family outdoor theatre and activities such as Easter egg hunts and Halloween trails at more than 100 properties a year. Sky branding will be prevalent at the events, aimed at attracting new UK and Ireland National Trust members.

In addition, Sky is getting behind the National Trust's Schools Arts Partnership, where students get together at their local Trust property and work with artists to paint history "where it happened". More than 60 schools are signed up to the scheme.

To mark the sponsorship deal, Sky's arts channel, Artsworld, has commissioned a series of programmes featuring National Trust properties.

The 10-part series 'National Trust: National Treasures', will recreate the experience of the best possible guided tour of different properties including Castle Drogo in Devon and Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire, charting the history and examining the treasures of each property with the help of the Trust's experts.

The series is Artsworld's first programme commission in the new High Definition Television format for broadcast in mid-2006 as part of the forthcoming Sky HD package.

Charles Ponsonby, Sky's marketing director, said: "Just as we're committed to choice and diversity in television for millions of families, we're looking forward to helping the National Trust to deliver an exciting programme of activities that helps introduce families to the National Trust and its many fascinating properties."

The National Trust has more than 3m members and looks after 300 homes and gardens.

The news comes as BSkyB gets ready to release its second-quarter results on Wednesday. First-quarter results saw the satellite giant hit its 8m subscriber target.

The next interim results are likely to focus on churn or number of subscribers deserting. The first three months of the 2005 saw churn rise from 10.5% to 11.7%.

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