Sky News is a British news organisation, which operates a TV network of the same name, a radio news service, and distributes news 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.
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 adverts, is available in Europe, 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 adverts, and there are also international weather forecasts at the end of each half-hour newswheel. Sponsored adverts 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 to 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.
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 (Bafta). Sky News started broadcasting at 6 pm on 5 February 1989.
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 to 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 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 Newslaunched 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 feeshould be considered state aid (within the meaning of Article 87) but that the BBC’s public service remit justified the channel.
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.
In March 2004 it was announced that Sky News had won a five-year contract to supply news bulletins to Channel 5, taking over from ITN in January 2005.
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 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 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, 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 pm – 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 June 19, 2018, it was reported that Disney has 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.