Sky News is a 24-hour international, multi-media news operation based in Britain. It provides non-stop rolling news on television, online, and on a range of mobile devices – as well as delivering a service of national and international radio news to commercial radio stations in the UK. The news service places emphasis on rolling news, including the latest breaking news. Having launched as a 24-hour television news channel in 1989, Sky News has also grown into a digital operation through its website and mobile apps. It is also a content provider for news services in the UK and around the world. John Ryley is the Head of Sky News, being in the role since June 2006.
In addition to the domestic television channel, Sky News also hosts localised versions of the channel: Sky News Australia and Sky News Arabia, and previously operated Sky News Ireland. Sky News is also offered in an international version without the British adverts under the name Sky News International available in Europe, Africa, Asia and the United States. It operates Sky News Radio which provides news for many commercial radio stations in the UK, many of them as the news provider for Independent Radio News (IRN). Sky News also provides content for Yahoo! News, and is available on Apple TV and Roku.
Establishment and early years
On 8 June 1988, Rupert Murdoch announced to the British Academy of Film and Television Arts that he would provide a new television news service. 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 to propose to Murdoch the station be closed, but Rupert 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 Viscount Whitelaw said to 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 turned from loss to profit, when Murdoch would say 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 one of the UK's first 24-hour news channels (with CNN International on Astra 1A, while BBC World Service Television launched in 1991 but has never been broadcast in the UK) 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 complaint by Sky News 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) and that it was justified due to the public service remit of the BBC and that it did not exceed actual costs of 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 saw 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 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 saw 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, with the removal of the evening programmes Sky Report and World News Tonight with James Rubin in favour of rolling news and an interactive programme, Sky News with Martin Stanford, and the return to a two-presenter format on Sky News Today. On 25 February 2007 the channel changed its graphics scheme to include the display of breaking news in yellow. These changes came at the same time of the arrival of John Ryley, who is the incumbent 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. They also switched to a Sunrise 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. And it introduced an early evening financial news programme presented by Jeff Randall, initially on Mondays only. On 8 January 2008 Dermot Murnaghan joined Sky to present Sky News Today from 9 am to 1 pm.
Further changes were made to the Sky News schedule on 8 September 2008, with Colin Brazier presenting a new show from 1 pm – 2pm, The Live Desk, Martin Stanford's Sky.Com News became SkyNews.com and moved to 7 pm every weeknight, and Sky Midnight News was introduced.
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 4 nights each week, Monday to Thursday.
From sunrise to midnight on 8 March 2010, Sky News was presented and produced exclusively by women to mark International Women's Day. Week later, Sky News presents an all-new eighth logo of this news channel, designed after five years.
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 they 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 to coincide with the launch of the new HD channel – this was trialed 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 logo for both the SD and HD versions of the channel was released before launch – the main change being adopting a new logo to go with the modified Sky logo.
Following the 2015 General Election, Sky News was re branded, with a new top of the hour sequence and on screen graphics.
For the 2016 United Kingdom European Union referendum, Sky News brought live broadcasts for the days following the Referendum from outside Parliament, bringing live interviews with Politicians and decision makers.
The following are current Sky News programmes:
- Sunrise: A round-up of national and international news
- Sky News Today: An overview of the day's top news and sports stories, live interviews and weather summaries
- Sky News with Kay Burley: A summary of the latest news headlines
- Sky News at 5
- Sky News at Six: Interviews and debates on the day's major stories. Plus, a weather report
- Sky News at Seven: Steve Dixon presents a round-up of the latest international news, including sports headlines and weather summaries
- Ian King Live: All the day's business news live from Sky's City of London studio
- Sky News Tonight: A round-up on the day's major stories
- Sky News at Nine: A round-up of the stories that have hit the headlines today, featuring reports from correspondents around the world by Anna Botting
- Sky News at 10
- Press Preview: A preview of the stories appearing in tomorrow's national newspapers
- Sky News at 11
- Sky Midnight News: Day's headlines updates and a weather report
- Sky News on The Hour: Review of the latest international news with sports, weather and financial updates
- Sky World News: A comprehensive look at the biggest stories from around the globe
- Sky World Review & Business Report: The world's biggest stories including weather, sports and business news
- Sportsline: A comprehensive round-up of the day's sports results and events from around the country
- News, Sport & Weather: A round-up on the latest news, sports headlines and weather forecasts
- Week in Review
- The Pledge (from 21 April)
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 shown internationally, sometimes under the name Sky News International, and can often be seen in hotels as well as being offered by some cable and satellite providers as part of their English-language line-up. 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 but not limited to Hot Bird, Nilesat, Amos 1 and Intelsat 10-02. It is also usually carried on cable systems in Europe, particularly (but not only) in Northern Europe especially in the Scandinavian countries.
Most of Europe, the Middle East and Asia receive exactly the same line-up as Sky News in the UK. However, the timepiece seen in the channel's UK version is superimposed with a banner labelled "skynews.com"; previously the entire ticker was superimposed with static text. In lieu of commercials, the international version of the channel is replaced with either a break filler or highlights from previously aired shows.
In Germany, most viewers via the largest cable network – Kabel Deutschland – no longer receive Sky News during the morning or daytime. Instead, CNBC is shown. Those with a Sky subscription in Germany also have no access to Sky News at these times.
On 19 June 2013 Sky News International, both with clips and live streaming of the network, began to be distributed without cost or pay service authentication to all Apple TV users in the UK, Ireland and United States. On July 24, 2013, it was added to the Roku streaming player. Sky News International is available on to viewers around the world. On 30 September 2014, Sky News began live streaming the channel on YouTube.
Sky News Australia, partly owned by Sky, is a separate channel that carries Sky News UK overnight, and shares some of its presentational style; on Foxtel, a Sky News UK feed is also available at all times on Sky News Active. From 2004 to 2006, Sky News Ireland similarly carried local programming. This was discontinued due to financial losses, with the Irish feed reverting to carrying the UK feed with local advertising. In 2012, Sky News Arabia (headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE) became the latest international offshoot of Sky News, covering the Arab world.
Sky News HD
Sky released the high definition version of Sky News on 6 May 2010 to coincide with the 2010 election results. In the build-up to this launch, they have been upgrading their studios and several bureax both in the UK and around the world to be able to broadcast in HD.
Since early 2008, Sky News has been using cameras in the field which can shoot in HD. Some one-off programmes have been made available in high definition to Sky+ HD viewers through the On Demand feature, under the branding Sky News HD. These programmes have included Technofile, Diana: The Final Word, Canoe Man: Rise and Fall of John Darwin and Pathfinders: Into The Heart Of Afghanistan.
At 5pm (GMT) on 20 January 2009, Sky News' live coverage of the Inauguration of Barack Obama was carried in high definition on Sky Arts HD. This was the first ever live broadcast of Sky News in HD. Jeremy Thompson fronted the coverage from Washington, D.C. Michael Jackson's memorial service was also presented in HD, with Kay Burley presenting.
Sky News moved operations to a chroma-key "green screen" set in Studio B from 30 March 2010 so that final preparations could take place in the main newsroom.
Sky News HD launched on Sky Channel 517 for 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 coverage 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. This tape included the shows that were mentioned above as being available on Sky Anytime. This continued until Sky News HD was launched in full on the evening of 6 May 2010, to coincide with the coverage of the results for the 2010 General Election hosted by Adam Boulton.
On 26 July 2010, Sky News HD launched on the Orbit Showtime Network, broadcasting to the Middle East and Africa.
On 1 January 2015, Sky News HD launched on Virgin Media.
Sky News Radio
In March 2007, BSkyB and Chrysalis Group announced a joint partnership to launch a dedicated Sky News Radio station on the proposed bid by Channel 4's 4 Digital Group for the second DAB 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 they would be withdrawing from the joint venture. Sky have announced plans to find a partner elsewhere.
The Sky News Radio feed is available FTA on the Astra 2A satellite at 28.2 East by manually tuning it in: 12207.00 V, 27500, 2/3 (Label: SNR).
When elections, either national or international, take place, Sky edits its schedule to focus on them. Recent examples have been the 2015 United Kingdom general election, the 2006 Israeli legislative election, and the 2016 United States Presidential Election nomination races. Sky also often shows long interviews; for example, Anna Botting's exclusive half-hour interview with Carla Bruni in early 2010. At the end of each year, in December and January of the new year, a series of special 'Year in Review' shows are shown which look back at memorable news stories from the past year.
The channel regularly focusses on specific areas of society and current affairs, which allows for further indepth analysis and debate. In the past examples of these series have included Inside Iraq, Green Britain and Crime Uncovered.
Pakistan: On Terrors Frontline was shown throughout the week beginning Monday 23 March 2009. The Sky News press release stated;
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.
The series of reports has since won the 2009 RTS Award for Foreign News Coverage.
Criticism and perception
Sky News operates under the requirements of United Kingdom broadcasting regulations that require neutrality and impartial, unbiased coverage. It 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 it is majority-owned by 21st Century Fox; most of 21st Century Fox's (and News Corp, in which Rupert Murdoch also has an ownership interest) news outlets have an openly conservative or right-wing outlook. In a 2010 article in the New Statesman, prominent left-wing commentator 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."
In early 1994 Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun newspaper, was appointed Managing Director of BSkyB. MacKenzie's proposed changes to Sky News led to clashes with CEO Sam Chisholm and the head of Sky News, Ian Frykberg, who protested what they saw as an attempt to take its news values down market. 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 put on Sky One. MacKenzie announced his resignation in August 1994, but not until 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.
Sky News broadcast live coverage of Louise Woodward's trial, held in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. When Sky returned to a regular schedule, viewers demanded the trial coverage. From Woodward's home in Elton, Cheshire, Sky broadcast locals reactions, but this brought criticism of maintaining a pro-Louise Woodward stance, as she was found guilty but sentenced to time served.
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". There were 110 complaints submitted to Ofcom and A Sky News spokesperson said both Mr Brazier "and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused".
Sky News was again embroiled in controversy in October 2014, when their journalist Martin Brunt and his camera crew initiated and carried out a type of sting operation called doorstepping to reveal the identity of Brenda Leyland, who had posted comments concerning the McCann investigation on social media. Following the confrontation Leyland was later 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 taking her own life. Following the inquest, Ofcom reported they had received 171 complaints to date in relation to the case and that they would consider these complaints in light of the coroner’s verdict.
- 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 liked 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 UK attorney general 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, the 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 is alleged to have breached the injunction on the day of their release around from Somalia, leading attorney general Dominic Grieve QC to seek permission at the High Court to bring contempt proceedings.
- March 2013, Sky News journalist Mark Stone and his camera operator have been detained in Tiananmen Square live on British television, in what he described as a surreal but telling episode about reporting in China. Viewers of the 24-hour British channel Sky News on Friday were treated to the bizarre sight of reporter Mark 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.
From 2000 onwards, Sky News expanded its international coverage, opening bureaux in Africa, Europe, and the far East. It won awards from the Royal Television Society, the latest being 'News Channel of the Year' in 2011.
In June 2007, Sky News was named the "Best News Channel" at the Broadcast Digital Channel Awards. It beat several other national and international broadcasters including Al Jazeera English and the BBC.
In November 2014, Sky news sponsored the first ever "Young Person in Business" Award for the British Chambers Awards, this was won by Oliver Bryssau of Origin Broadband, who also won "Business of the Year".
On the 10th May 2015, Sky News won a BAFTA in the News Category, for Alex Crawford's coverage of the 2014 Ebola crisis.
Sky News was also awarded the 2016 Royal Television Society – News Channel of the Year, for the tenth time.
Sky News bureau locations: some are independent, others are shared with 21st Century Fox networks or other international affiliates.
- Beijing, People's Republic of China
- Brussels, Belgium
- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
- 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 (with Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network)
- Sydney, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Washington, D.C., US (with Fox News Channel)
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)
- Chicago, US (with CBS News)
- New Delhi, Indian (With Wion Tv)
- Los Angeles, US (with Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network)
- Milan, Italy (with Italian Sky TG24)
- Perth, Australia (with Sky News Australia)
- Rome, Italy (with Italian Sky TG24)
News.sky.com is the channel's main website. It provides news, sport, weather, showbiz, and business stories with help from other divisions such as Sky Sports.
In 2009 the website underwent a largely cosmetic change to bring it in line with the on-screen look of Sky News TV. The site makes 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, with both the look of the pages and the content management system being updated.
Interactivity: Blogs and Forums
Since 2005, with the relaunch of the TV channel, a greater emphasis has been placed upon interactivity. With a growing selection of news blogs written by staff and guests, Sky News now has a tailored selection targeted towards each demographic of its audience. A recent addition to Sky News Online has been messageboards or forums. The 2012 site revamp removed the blogs in favor of greater emphasis on analysis and comment.
Sky Tyne and Wear
On 15 February 2012, Sky News announced a dedicated website for the Tyne and Wear area covering local news sport and events, the pilot service employs a team of locally based video journalists. The site closed suddenly on 9 December 2013.
Virgin Media dispute
On 1 March 2007, the contract for Virgin Media to provide Sky's basic channels (including Sky News) on their cable TV service expired after a dispute between Virgin Media and BSkyB. At Midnight, Sky News was removed, the electronic programming guide 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 returned to Virgin Media Network along with all the other "Sky Basics" channels that were removed in March 2007. This deal between BSkyB and Virgin Media was confirmed on 4 November 2008. Sky News reappeared on Virgin Media on 13 November.