It is being reported that the recently launched Merit has had its license transferred from ITV to Sky.
Under Freeview rules, channel operators cannot transfer or sell channel numbers. It appears that to get around this, ITV have created Merit in order to transfer the channel number to Sky.
Sky are planning on launching Sky Arts as a free to air channel, and Merit’s channel number could be used for the new Freeview version of the channel, possibly being combined within the bandwidth currently used by Sky owned challenge.
At this time, any potential development is simply speculation. Another scenario, given that Merit has focused on food, home, and gardening programmes, is that Sky may be planning on launching their own food or home related channel. Merit could end up forming the basis of this.
Although Merit launched on Freeview only, the channel has been broadcasting on satellite using CITV downtime, although did not join the Sky or Freesat EPG.
There are likely to be more developments in the Merit story.
Update: 23/08/2020. I’ve since learnt that Sky Arts is to take channel number 11, meaning Sky Pick would take 34 as this would be the highest Sky owned channel number. It is still unclear what will happen to Challenge.