Sky News is a British free-to-air television news channel and organisation. Sky News is distributed via a radio news service, and through online channels. It is owned by Sky, a division of Comcast. John Ryley is the head of Sky News, a role he has held since June 2006. Sky News is currently Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year, the 12th time it has held the award.
|Launched||5 February 1989|
|Owned by||Sky (Comcast Corporation)|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to 16:9 576i for the SDTV feed)
|Audience share||0.79% (June 2019 , BARB)|
|Slogan||First for breaking news|
|12207 V 27500 5/6 (UK)|
|12604 V 22000 5/6 (International)|
|Thor 5 0.8°W|
(Europe & North Africa)
|12418 V 28000 7/8 (International)|
|Channel 202 (SD)|
(UK & Ireland)
|Channel 501 (SD/HD)|
Channel 875 (SD)
|TV Vlaanderen Digitaal|
|OSN (Middle East|
& North Africa)
|Channel 401 (HD)|
|Channel 532 (HD)|
(Taiwan and China)
|Channel 6120 (HD)|
|11425 V 30000 3/4|
|Foxtel (Australia)||Channel 605 (as Sky News UK)|
|Channel 602 (HD)|
Channel 232 (HD)
|KTV (Falkland Islands)||Channel 218|
|Channel 703 (SD)|
Channel 757 (HD)
|Macau Cable TV (Macau)||Channel 805|
|Cable TV Hong Kong (Hong Kong)||Channel 121|
|Channel 151 (HD)|
|Channel 559 (HD)|
|Channel 603 (HD)|
|Sky Go||Watch live|
(UK and Ireland only)
|Virgin TV Anywhere||Watch live (UK only)|
Watch live (Ireland only)
|Apple TV||Sky News app (UK, Ireland and US)|
|Roku||Sky News channel|
|Foxtel app||Channel 605 (Australia only)|
|Pluto TV||Channel 135 (web browser, desktop app, streaming devices, game consoles, smartphones)|
A sister channel, Sky News Arabia, is operated as a joint venture with the Abu Dhabi Media Investment Corporation. Another sister channel, Sky News Australia, was part-owned by Sky News parent Sky plc until December 2016. A channel called Sky News International, simulcasting the UK channel directly but without British advertisements, is available in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South Asia, Asia Pacific, Australia, and the Americas. Narrated segments (which generally cover lighter issues unrelated to current news stories) are played in lieu of advertisements, and international weather forecasts also are given at the end of each half-hour newswheel. Sponsored advertisements are still broadcast before and/or after the sports news and weather segments. Sky News Radio provides national and international news to commercial radio and community radio stations in the UK and other English-language stations around the world. Sky News also provides content to Yahoo! News. The channel is available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, Roku, YouTube, and Pluto TV.
Establishment and early years
On 8 June 1988, Rupert Murdoch announced plans to start a new television news service in a speech to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts. Sky News started broadcasting at 6 pm on 5 February 1989.
Visually Sky News looked very neat, with slick and classy presentation and John O'Loan's original vocation as an architect showing in the studio set. Sky had gone for the same format as the Nine O'Clock News on the BBC, which had recently been redesigned to give the impression of activity and immediacy by placing the newsreader against a backdrop of the working newsroom. Sky News, it was universally agreed as staff nodded in vigorous approval, had succeeded rather better at the same thing. The critics were mildly taken aback. Contrary to some of the horror scenarios bandied about by the chattering classes there seemed to be little to grumble about. And as its slogan of 'We're there when you need us,' emphasised, it was always on.
In the early days, the channel operated on a £40 million budget (plus £10 million share of overheads), which led Sam Chisholm, chief executive of the newly merged BSkyB to suggest to Murdoch that the station be closed, but Murdoch was "pleased with its achievements ... there were overriding reasons of prestige and politics for keeping it ... the final hurdle of the Broadcasting Bill had still to be overcome and the case for the acceptability of Sky would collapse if suddenly there was no news channel." – former deputy Prime Minister William Whitelaw said in the House of Lords in 1990 that Sky News had "a very high reputation ... I admire it, as do many other people, it will certainly waken up both the BBC and ITN and ensure that they compete with what is a very important news service". The channel has never been run for a profit, and has considered using ITN to supplement the service.
By March 1992, Sky News' parent company turned from loss to profit. On the channel's growth, Murdoch said at that time: "Sky News, has quietly, if expensively, become the first building block of what we envision will become the premier worldwide electronic news-gathering network anywhere. Ask anyone in Europe, and particularly the BBC and you will be told that Sky News has added a new and better dimension to television journalism."
Sky News was the UK's first 24-hour news channel, broadcast on Astra 1A. It had no local competition until November 1997, when BBC News launched a new 24-hour channel, BBC News 24, now known simply as BBC News. In September 1999, the European Commission ruled against a Sky News complaint, which argued that the publicly funded BBC News 24 was unfair and illegal under EU law. The EC ruled that the television licence fee should be considered state aid (within the meaning of Article 87), but that the BBC's public service remit justified the channel.
Sky News since 2000
In March 2000 Sky News Active was launched, a 24-hour interactive service providing headlines (and other services which ranged from weather, the top story of the day and showbiz) on demand.
On 24 October 2005, Sky News moved to new studios in Isleworth, London, and underwent a major on-screen revamp. The new studio was integrated with the newsroom and boasted the biggest video wall in Britain; it was designed by New York architects Janson Design Group. New music was scored by Adelphoi Music and recorded with a full orchestra at Air Studios, Hampstead, and mastered at Metropolis Studios. New on-screen graphics were launched and the channel began broadcasting in widescreen (16:9) format.
The 2005 relaunch also had the introduction of a new schedule designed around "appointment to view" programmes rather than continuous rolling news. James Rubin joined to present a new evening programme called World News Tonight, Julie Etchingham presented another new "hard-hitting" evening show called The Sky Report, Eamonn Holmes joined to present Sunrise, Kay Burley presented a new programme called Lunchtime Live from 12 to 2 pm, and the daytime show Sky News Today had the introduction of a three-presenter format. However, the relaunched schedule was unsuccessful, and from October 2005, the BBC News channel overtook Sky News in the ratings.
In response to the schedule's unpopularity with viewers, changes took place in July 2006, involving the removal of the evening programmes, replaced by rolling news and an interactive programme, Sky News with Martin Stanford, and the return to a two-presenter format on Sky News Today. These changes came at the time of the arrival of John Ryley, who is still the head of Sky News.
On 1 October 2007, Sky introduced another new schedule, extending Kay Burley's Lunchtime Live programme and renaming it Afternoon Live. It also switched to a new format for much of the day, with a solo lead presenter and a summary newsreader. Sky News put more emphasis on interactive news with Martin Stanford's new SkyNews.com programme; an early evening financial news programme presented by Jeff Randall, was also introduced, initially on Mondays only.
Further changes were made to the Sky News schedule on 8 September 2008, with Colin Brazier presenting a new show from 1 – 2 pm, The Live Desk, and Martin Stanford's Sky.com News became SkyNews.com, moving to 7 pm every weeknight.
More changes took place during the early part of 2009. These changes involved major changes to the layout of the newsroom/studio, the introduction of a morning edition of The Live Desk and the extension of the financial news programme Jeff Randall Live to run for four nights each week, Monday to Thursday.
From 6 am to midnight on 8 March 2010, Sky News was presented and produced exclusively by women to mark International Women's Day. This exercise was repeated in 2011 and 2012.
In preparation for the start of high-definition broadcasting, Sky News moved to its second studio (Studio B) on the morning of 30 March 2010. Broadcasting from Studio B continued until 9 pm on 6 May, when it moved back to the main newsroom and launched Sky News HD in time for the 2010 general election results. Sky News received a graphics refresh and a new logo to coincide with the launch of the new HD channel – this was tried out during the soft launch for Sky News HD on 22 April; Sky News' distinctive orchestral theme music, in use since 2005, was also replaced on 6 May 2010.
The new title music, composed by David Arnold, was recorded with a 60-piece Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in Angel Recording Studios, London, and uses more than 132 audio channels for 18 seconds of sound.
Following the 2015 general election, Sky News was rebranded, with a new top-of-the-hour sequence and on-screen graphics. The traditional opening voiceover, read by Bruce Hammal, was dropped after two decades in use.
On 24 October 2016, Sky News began broadcasting from a new studio (Studio 21) at Sky Central, Sky's new headquarters in West London. The "glass box" studio was initially used for broadcasts from 6 am to 6.30 pm each weekday (with the exception of All Out Politics, which comes from Sky's Westminster studio) - as of April 2019 it is now only used from 11 am to 7 pm, and 9 pm to 12 am. The schedule was also changed.
In January 2017, Sky moved its business operations into the News Building in central London.
On 16 January 2018, Sky moved all its news operations over to Studio 21, "the glass box", and a new studio in Sky Studios. The logo was also refreshed along with the graphics.
On 3 April 2018, 21st Century Fox made two proposals regarding the Sky acquisition: They would either sell Sky News to The Walt Disney Company (which would be a separate transaction from the Disney-Fox merger), or to separate Sky News from Sky plc.
On 19 June 2018 Disney reportedly had agreed to acquire Sky News. However, Comcast won the bidding war over the stake for £17.28 per-share, thus aligning Sky News with its NBC division of its wholly owned subsidiary NBCUniversal. Sky plc had until 11 October to formally accept this offer. On 12 October 2018, Comcast announced it will compulsorily acquire the rest of Sky after its bid gained acceptances from 95.3% of the broadcaster's shareholders and later Comcast acquired the rest of 5% of the shares of the Sky.
Sky News is free-to-air on the Astra 28.2°E satellites carrying Sky. It is also available on Freeview and analogue and digital cable. In 2007, BSkyB announced its intention to cease broadcasting Sky News, as well as other BSkyB channels over Freeview pending Ofcom approval.
Sky News International
Sky News is also available internationally on cable systems, on satellite, and in some hotels. While the UK feed is broadcast in 16:9, the international version remained broadcast in a 4:3 picture format until August 2010.
The international version is shown as free-to-air on Astra 1L at 19.2° east. It is also carried encrypted on a number of satellites for international reception, including Hot Bird, Nilesat, Amos 1, and Intelsat 10-02. It is also usually carried on cable systems in Europe, particularly in Northern Europe, especially in the Scandinavian countries.
International viewers receive the same programming line-up of Sky News as the UK version. Brief news stories, entertainment news, worldwide weather forecast summaries, and the front pages of international newspapers are broadcast in lieu of UK commercials. The timepiece on the lower left side of the ticker is covered with a banner that says "skynews.com".
On 19 June 2013, Sky News International was added to Apple TV for users in the UK, Ireland, and the United States. Viewers can watch clips or live streaming of the channel at no charge. On 24 July 2013, it was added to the Roku streaming player. Sky News International is available on news.sky.com to viewers around the world. On 30 September 2014, Sky News began live streaming the channel on YouTube. The free streaming service Pluto TV also offers a live feed of Sky News to American users on channel 135.
Sky News Australia was one-third owned by Sky plc until December 2016, when it was acquired by News Corp Australia. It carries Sky News UK overnight and shares some of its presentational style. On Foxtel in Australia, Sky News UK is available on Sky News Active.
From 2004 to 2006, Sky News Ireland broadcast two newscasts produced in Dublin. The newscasts were cancelled due to low viewership. Sky News in Ireland now carries the same programming as Sky News in the UK, but with local advertising.
Sky News Arabia, broadcasting in Arabic and headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, launched in 2012. Sky plc owns 50% of the channel.
Sky TG24, Italy's version of Sky News, launched in 2003.
Previous partnership with CBS News
Until 2017, Sky News had a resource-sharing agreement with CBS News in the United States to share footage and reporting. In July 2017, in the wake of Sky's pending takeover by 21st Century Fox (which runs the competing and de facto sister Fox News Channel in the U.S.), and NBC News acquiring a stake in Euronews, CBS ended the agreement and entered into a similar deal with the BBC.
Sky News HD
Beginning in early 2008, Sky News began using HD-capable cameras in the field. Some one-off programmes were made available in HD to Sky+ HD subscribers on Sky On Demand. The programmes included Technofile, Diana: The Final Word, Canoe Man: Rise and Fall of John Darwin, and Pathfinders: Into The Heart Of Afghanistan.
On 20 January 2009, before the launch of the Sky News HD channel, Sky Arts broadcast Sky News coverage in HD of the Inauguration of Barack Obama. Jeremy Thompson fronted the coverage from Washington, D.C. Michael Jackson's memorial service was also broadcast in HD, with Kay Burley presenting.
Sky News moved operations to a chroma-key set in Studio B from 30 March 2010, so final preparations for HD could take place in the main newsroom.
The first live broadcast of Sky News HD, on Sky Channel 517, was the channel's election debate, which was held on 22 April 2010. For the 10 days leading up to the debate, channel 517 displayed a countdown clock to launch. The debate was hosted in HD by Kay Burley and Adam Boulton. Following the end of the coverage for the evening, channel 517 moved to show a looping preview tape. The tape included the HD, which were available on Sky Anytime. The loop continued until Sky News HD was launched on the evening of 6 May 2010, coinciding with the coverage of the 2010 general election results, hosted by Adam Boulton.
On 26 July 2010, Sky News HD launched on the OSN Network, broadcasting to the Middle East and Africa.
On 1 January 2015, Sky News HD launched on Virgin Media.
Sky News Radio
Sky News Radio provides news bulletins to radio stations in the United Kingdom and to other English-language radio stations around the world.
In March 2007, BSkyB and Chrysalis Group announced plans to launch a dedicated Sky News Radio station on the proposed bid by Channel 4's 4 Digital Group for the second digital audio broadcasting multiplex in the United Kingdom. However, two months later Chrysalis sold its radio stations to Global Radio, and in October 2007 following a business review Global's chief executive announced that it would be withdrawing from the joint venture.
The Sky News Radio feed is available free-to-air on the Astra 2A satellite at 28.2 East by tuning it manually: 12207.00 V, 27500, 2/3 (Label: SNR).
Sky News Raw
On 5 February 2019, Sky News launched a pop-up channel called Sky News Raw. It aired with behind-the-scenes programming from 07:00 to 17:00 on channel 523 on Sky TV and online via Sky News' social media channels. The pop-up channel celebrated the 30th anniversary of Sky News, having first broadcast on 5 February 1989.
Robotic cameras were placed around the newsroom and planning rooms at Sky Studios, in the three main television studios at Osterley and Millbank, and in the broadcast galleries. There were also behind-the-scenes features from elsewhere in the newsgathering operation, such as the Sky News helicopter and ENG vehicles.
Sky News Brexit-Free
On 16 October 2019, Sky News launched a pop-up channel called Sky News Brexit-Free, with content broadcasting each weekday from 17:00 to 22:00 on channel 523 on Sky TV. The channel, as the name suggests, allows viewers to "hear about issues away from Westminster and Brussels". The pop-up channel closed down on 1 November 2019.
|“||Over three days, Sky News will explore why Pakistan has become the frontline of terror and ask what the West can do about it. Jeremy Thompson will present live from the capital Islamabad, interviewing key figures across the community.||”|
Criticism and perception
Sky News operates under United Kingdom broadcasting regulations which require impartial, unbiased coverage and prevent the channel from being encrypted in the UK. The channel is viewed by some in the media establishment as an impartial and unbiased provider of news.
There are occasional claims that Sky News may be inherently biased due to the fact that throughout the 1990s and 2000s it was minority owned and dominated by Rupert Murdoch's right-leaning News Corporation, and thereafter the Murdoch family's 21st Century Fox. Many News Corp subsidiaries, including News Corp UK & Ireland Ltd, the owner of the Sun, Times and Sunday Times newspapers, have an openly conservative or right-wing outlook. In a 2010 article in the New Statesman, prominent journalist and broadcaster Mehdi Hasan argued that "in style and in substance, of course, it is nothing like the pro-war, pro-Republican, pro-Palin Fox News Channel... Sky News remains, as far as I can see, free of party political bias." As of October 2018, Fox no longer has any stake in the broadcaster.
In early 1994 Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun newspaper, was appointed managing director of BSkyB, Sky News's parent company at the time. MacKenzie's proposed changes to Sky News led to clashes with CEO Sam Chisholm and the head of Sky News, Ian Frykberg, who protested at what they saw as an attempt to take the channel's news values downmarket. The most ferocious battle occurred when Mackenzie wanted Sky News to run an interview with Lady Bienvenida Buck. Frykberg refused to air the interview and resigned shortly afterwards. The interview was broadcast on Sky One. MacKenzie announced his resignation in August 1994, but not before Sky News had transmitted live pictures of the freeway chase of OJ Simpson white Bronco on 17 June 1994 bringing US helicopter journalism to the UK.
In 1997 Sky News broadcast live coverage of Louise Woodward's trial, held in Boston, Massachusetts. When Sky returned to a regular schedule, viewers demanded the trial coverage be continued. Sky News broadcast reaction from Woodward's home town of Elton, Cheshire, leading to criticism that the station had a pro-Louise Woodward stance.
In November 2005 the then head of BBC News, Peter Horrocks, acknowledged that Sky News remained the first choice for "key opinion formers".
Ofcom received 832 complaints about a May 2010 interview with electoral reformist David Babbs conducted by Sky News presenter Kay Burley. The interview led to Burley being heckled by protesters while reporting from Westminster, and further protest via a Twitter campaign.
In 2014, Sky News journalist Colin Brazier rifled through an MH17 victim's possessions on live TV. He picked up objects and briefly described what he had before putting them down and saying "we shouldn't really be doing this I suppose, really". 110 complaints were submitted to Ofcom. Sky News stated both Brazier "and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused".
Sky News was again embroiled in controversy in October 2014, when crime correspondent Martin Brunt and his camera crew doorstepped Brenda Leyland, who had posted controversial comments concerning the McCann investigation on social media. Following the confrontation Leyland was found dead in a hotel, leading to calls on social media for Brunt to be sacked. During the inquest into Leyland's death, Brunt expressed to the coroner that he was devastated at hearing the news of Leyland's suicide. Following the inquest, Ofcom reported it had received 171 complaints in relation to the case and that it would consider these complaints in light of the coroner's verdict.
In 2015, Kay Burley caused further controversy when, in response to the November 2015 Paris attacks, she tweeted a photograph of a Golden Retriever dog, to which she had added, "Sadness in his eyes #parisattacks".
In April 2003, Sky News carried a report from James Forlong aboard the British nuclear submarine HMS Splendid purportedly showing a live firing of a cruise missile during the Iraq war. The report was a fabrication, with the crew acting along for the benefit of the cameras. The Sky News team did not accompany the submarine when it left port and the scenes were actually recorded whilst the vessel was docked. The shot of the missile launch had been obtained from stock footage.
The faked report was revealed because another film crew did accompany the vessel to sea, and its footage showed that a modern missile is not launched by a crew member pressing a red button marked with the word "FIRE", as had been portrayed in the Sky News report, but is actually launched with a left mouse click. When the fabrication was exposed, Forlong and his producer were suspended. The next day, The Guardian reported that Forlong had resigned following an internal investigation. In a follow-up article, The Guardian speculated on the long-term effects on Sky News credibility. In October 2003, Forlong was found dead by his wife after committing suicide. In December, Sky News was fined £50,000 by the Independent Television Commission for breaching accuracy regulations.
In August 2016 Sky News was criticised after allegedly paying €2,000 to a group of Romanians to pretend they were part of an eastern European gang selling guns to terrorists in Syria. The Romanians were arrested by Romanian DIICOT and confessed that they were paid by Sky News journalist Stuart Ramsay to pretend they were gun traffickers. The guns featured in the report were legally owned and were hunting weapons. Sky News has said it stands by the story.
- November 2008 – BSkyB paid substantial undisclosed libel damages to Robert Murat in relation to their reporting of the abduction of Madeleine McCann. Sky News had falsely suggested that Murat, who was assisting in the search of McCann, had acted like child murderer Ian Huntley following McCann's disappearance. Sky News also falsely accused Murat of misleading journalists into thinking he was working for the police. An apology was also placed on the Sky News website, the libellous material removed and Murat's costs were paid.
- November 2010 – the Attorney General for England and Wales, Dominic Grieve QC, was given the right to launch contempt of court proceedings against Sky News over the broadcaster's alleged breach of a media injunction. It was in relation to the reporting of the story of Paul and Rachel Chandler, a Kent couple who were held captive by Somali pirates for 13 months. The media was blocked from publishing details of the couple's "health and welfare" prior to their being freed on 14 November 2010. Sky claims that it "scrupulously observed the terms of the injunction", but also admitted that it "followed the spirit, if not the letter" of the order. At the time, lawyers representing the Chandlers obtained the court order over fears that their lives could be put in danger by the media reporting their capture. Sky News was alleged to have breached the injunction on the day of their release around from Somalia, leading the Attorney General to seek permission at the High Court to bring contempt proceedings. The Attorney General dropped the case in January 2012; a spokesperson for his office said that continuing with proceedings would no longer be in the public interest.
- March 2013 – Sky News journalist Mark Stone and his camera operator were detained in Tiananmen Square live on British television, in what he described as a surreal but telling episode about reporting in China. Viewers saw Stone being directed into a police van live from Beijing. The square is a popular tourist site near the regime's nerve centre and the scene of 1989 democracy protests that were crushed by the Chinese authorities. A police officer was filmed asking the Sky team to switch off their camera, saying they were now inside the Forbidden City and did not have permission to film there. While they had permission to film in the square, Stone said police told him the team were not displaying their passes correctly, and noted he was not carrying his passport as required. China's foreign ministry insists that press censorship does not exist in the country, but journalists report the constant threat of interference from government officials.
Sky News's coverage of the 7 July 2005 London bombings won the 2006 International Emmy for Breaking News award, the coverage was commended as "fast and accurate".
The channel won a BAFTA Award in the News Category on 10 May 2015, for Alex Crawford's coverage of the 2014 Ebola crisis.
In 2018, Sky News was named Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year, the eleventh time the channel had won the award.
Sky News won a BAFTA Award in the News Category on 13 May 2018 for "The Rohingya Crisis". Special Correspondent Alex Crawford, Cameraman Martin Smith and Producer Neville Lazarus travelled into Myanmar to bring a first-hand report of what was happening in Rakhine State. The same programme also won an International Emmy Award for News in October 2018.
In November 2014, Sky News sponsored the Young Person in Business category of the National Chamber Awards. It was won by Oliver Bryssau of Origin Broadband, which was named Business of the Year.
Bureaus and studios
Sky News has bureaus across the world; some are operated in conjunction with other media outlets.
- Beijing, People's Republic of China
- Brussels, Belgium
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- Dublin, Republic of Ireland
- Jerusalem, Israel
- Johannesburg, South Africa
- Melbourne, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Moscow, Russia (with NTV Russia)
- New Delhi, India (with Wion Tv and Zee Live)
- New York City, US
- Sydney, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Washington, D.C., US
Additional live studios
- Auckland, New Zealand (with Sky News New Zealand)
- Adelaide, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Brisbane, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Canberra, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Los Angeles, U.S.
- Milan, Italy (with Sky TG24)
- Perth, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Rome, Italy (with Sky TG24)
In 2009, the website changed to bring it in line with the on-screen look of Sky News. The site made use of Flash video encoding to match the visual style of the TV channel with pictures and breaking news. The site underwent a further refresh in 2012, when both the look of the pages and the content management system were updated.
Virgin Media dispute
On 1 March 2007, Sky's agreement to provide its basic channels (including Sky News) to Virgin Media expired. At midnight, Sky News was removed and the EPG entry for the channel was changed to "Sky Snooze Try BBC" until Sir Richard Branson demanded the message be removed, saying: "I have asked them to take it down. We do not mean any disrespect to Sky News. I think it is a very good news channel."
Sky News, and the other Sky channels that had been removed, reappeared on Virgin Media on 13 November 2008.
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