Sky plc

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Sky is the brand name for Sky Ltd's UK digital satellite television and telecommunications services. Sky uses the VideoGuardWikipedia-W.svg pay-TV scrambling system owned by Cisco Videoscape, a subsidiary of Cisco Systems Inc. There are tight controls over use of VideoGuard decoders; they are not available as stand-alone DVB Conditional-Access Modules.
Sky maintains an electronic programme guide (EPG) which provides information about upcoming programmes and a list of channels. Sky has no veto over the presence of channels on their EPG, with open access being an enforced part of their operating licence from OfCom.

Corporate Political Engagement Rating:[1] Transparency International    B  


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  • Sky Studios
  • Sky News is a 24-hour international multimedia news organisation based in the UK that started out in 1989 as a 24-hour TV news channel.ref, Sky NewsWikipedia-W.svg
  • ... ...



  • Oct.2018: Comcast acquired the remaining 5% of Sky's shares;ref Sky was delisted and taken private, becoming Sky Ltd.OpenCorporates-sm.svg, MarketScreener-sm.svg
  • Oct.2018: Comcast's bid gained acceptance from 95.3% of Sky UK's shareholders.ref
  • Oct.2018: Comcast purchased 21st Century Fox's 39% stake in Sky UK, thereby acquiring a 76.8% controlling stake,ref and ending Rupert Murdoch's ~30-year association with Sky.
  • Sept.2018: Comcast, the USA's largest cable TV provider, outbid Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox in an auction for control of Sky UK.ref,ref


  • Nov.2014: Sky plc: holdco British Sky Broadcasting Group plc changed its name.ref The UK operations also changed the company name from British Sky Broadcasting Ltd to Sky UK Ltd, but continued trading as Sky.
  • Nov.2014: Sky Deutschland: a majority 90.04% interest was acquired.
  •  ??.2014: Sky Italia was acquired by BSkyB.
  • Mar.2013: it was announced that Sky would buy O2's and Be's broadband services from Telefónica.ref
  • Jul.2010: Virgin Media Television (VMtv) was bought from Virgin Media, after gaining Irish regulatory approval.ref,ref The acquisition expanded Sky's portfolio of basic pay TV channels, and eliminated the carriage fees it had previously paid for distributing VMtv channels on its TV services. VMtv was subsequently renamed the Living TV Group, and its operations were integrated into BSkyB in early 2011.ref
  • 2006: Easynet, a managed service provider that delivered integrated networks, hosting and unified communications services to organisations globally, was acquired. In 2010, Easynet announced its sale from BSkyB to Lloyds Development Capital, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.ref In Oct.2015, Easynet was acquired by Interoute Communications Ltd, one of Europe’s largest independent fiber networks and cloud networking platforms.ref Interoute was itself acquired by GTT Communications Inc in May.2018.ref,ref EasynetWikipedia-W.svg
  • Oct.2005: BSkyB bought the broadband Internet service provider Easynet, enabling BSkyB to start offering a branded broadband service.
  • Nov.2003: James Murdoch, Rupert Murdoch's son, was appointed as CEO of the company.
  • Oct.2002: Freeview was launched, offering customers 3 channels through digital terrestrial television. Freeview (UK)Wikipedia-W.svg Sky Digital programming was being broadcasted into 25% of all British households.
  • Oct.1998: Sky Digital, the UK's first digital television service, was launched, offering 140 channels.
  • May.1997: British Interactive Broadcasting, owned by BSkyB (32.5%) and British Telecom (32.5%), Midland Bank (20%), and Matsushita Electric (15%), was formed to bring BSkyB firmly into the new era of digital broadcasting and telephony services. The dawn of digital broadcast technology was quickly making BSkyB's analog equipment obsolete.
  • Jan.1995: BSkyB completed its IPO of 20%. The stock flotation reduced Murdoch's holding to 40%, and halved the company's debt.
  • Sept.1993: Sky Multi-Channels, a fee-based multi-channel concept, was launched. Initially featured 14 channels, and would grow to 40.
  • Mar.1992: BSkyB showed its first operating profits, thanks in large part to Murdoch's CEO slashing BSB's expenditure on luxuries, and decimating staff.

The merger was met with resistance from the television regulators, an issue again subverted by plans to broadcast the new BSkyB from the Astra satellite group - and later mooted altogether by a redrafting of the British Broadcasting Act.

  • Nov.1990: BSkyB: British Sky Broadcasting Group plc was formed by a 50:50 financial merger between the two bitter rivals British Satellite Broadcasting and Sky Television, with a management takeover by Sky. The BSB broadcasting technology was abandoned.

Consumers had been reluctant to commit to satellite dish purchases at £650 per unit, before a standard was reached between the two competing - and incompatible - satellite receiver systems. Both BSB and Sky Television had haemorrhaged money, but Murdoch's banks had exerted huge pressure.


  • Mar.1990: BSB began broadcasting with 5 channels.ref
  • 1987: BSB decided to build and launch its own satellites, and to broadcast using a new technology. Unsurprisingly, technical problems with the system delayed BSB's launch for 9+ months.
  • Dec.1986: Regulators handed out the 15-year exclusive British satellite broadcasting license to BSB. Murdoch's Sky Channel was refused on the grounds that British law limited foreign ownership in television networks to 20% (cough). BSB completed its funding with additional shareholders Reed Elsevier, Chargeurs, London Merchant Securities, et al coming on board.
  •  ??.1986: British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) was established by a consortium of media giants: Granada Ltd, Anglia Television, Pearson plc, Virgin Group, Amstrad and Granada Ltd. Murdoch attempted to join the BSB consortium, but his overtures were spurned, resulting in his vowing revenge on the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA). British Satellite BroadcastingWikipedia-W.svg

Sky Television

  • Feb.1989: Sky Television: the network began broadcasting with 4 channels. Murdoch had circumvented UK ownership laws by renting space on the Luxembourg-based Astra satellites and used existing broadcast technology; he centred his operations specifically on the UK. Sky Television (1984–1990) § Launch of the Sky NetworkWikipedia-W.svg
  • Jan.1984: Sky Channel: Satellite Television was renamed.ref
  • Oct.1983: Satellite Television began broadcasting in the UK.ref(4)
  • Jun.1983: News International/Rupert Murdoch: Satellite Television's shareholders agreed to sell 65% of the company to Rupert Murdoch's News International.ref(12),ref(13) Murdoch bought the remaining shares of the company in ?date?, taking full control.ref(14)
  • Nov.1980: Satellite Television Ltd, a consortium, was set up by Brian Haynes, who realised the potential of using satellites to provide a new kind of television broadcasting.ref(1),ref(2) Europe-based Satellite Television played a pioneering role, delivering Europe's first satellite-to-cable TV service, providing a mix of English-language sports and entertainment programming. The venture was backed by Guinness Mahon and Barclays Merchant Bank.

By law, broadcast television was restricted to just 4 channels: the 2 license-fee backed BBC channels, and 2 advertiser-supported channels, ITV and Channel 4. Cable television didn't exist in the UK; the cable infrastructure was only completed toward the mid-1990s.

  • Autumn.1983: the new Home Secretary announced the 3 remaining channels would be given to the Independent Broadcasting Authority to allow the private sector to compete against the BBC in satellite broadcasting. Within a few months, the BBC started talking with the IBA about a joint project to help cover the cost. Subsequently, govt allowed the IBA to bring in private companies to help cover the costs (dubbed the "Club of 21")... ...
  • 1982: The BBC was awareded 2 of the channels; it then proposed its own satellite service.ref(6),ref(7)
  • 1977: the World Administrative Radio ConferenceWikipedia-W.svg assigned each country 5 high-powered channels for direct broadcast by satellite for domestic use.ref(5)
Additional Sources: Company Histories


  • Apr.25.2018: Comcast challenges Murdoch’s Fox with £22bn Sky bid. Sky, the pay-television company founded by Rupert Murdoch, has become a pawn in a global media power struggle involving Comcast, the American cable group, Walt Disney and Mr Murdoch’s own 21st Century Fox. Comcast gatecrashed Mr Murdoch’s own plans to take full control of Sky on Wednesday when it made a formal £12.50-a-share offer that values the pan-European media company at £22bn — almost £4bn more than the Fox bid. Waiting in the wings is Disney, the world’s largest media company, which last year separately agreed a $66bn deal to acquire most of Fox's entertainment assets — including its 39 per cent stake in Sky. Mr Murdoch’s hopes of acquiring the Sky shares not already owned by Fox were dealt a blow when an independent Sky committee withdrew its recommendation of his £10.75-a-share offer. Matthew Garrahan, The Financial Times.
  • Apr.12.2018: Disney Forced Into Takeover Offer for Sky by U.K. Authority. Walt Disney Co. will be forced to make a mandatory takeover offer for Sky plc provided its $52.4bn purchase of most of 21st Century Fox Inc is completed and Fox doesn't buy the European pay-TV company first, the UK Takeover Panel said on Thursday. Joe Mayes, Bloomberg.
  • Mar.08.2018: Take a proper look at Comcast bid, says Fox boss. John Nallen, chief financial officer of 21st Century Fox, has said that regulators should subject Comcast to the same scrutiny as his company before rubber-stamping the American cable group’s rival bid for Sky. Comcast has launched a £22.1 bn bid for the pay-TV broadcaster, gatecrashing Fox's planned £18.5 bn takeover. It has emerged that Comcast has been ranked the "most hated" and "worst" company in America in consumer surveys, and in 2016 was fined $2.3m by regulators for wrongfully charging customers for equipment and services they had not requested. In Jan.2018, the Competition & Markets Authority issued a provisional ruling on Fox's bid. It found that the deal raised concerns about media plurality but said they could be assuaged by spinning off Sky News or imposing structural changes that insulate the news channel from the influence of the Murdoch Family Trust. Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp, owner of The Times, is also co-chairman of 21st Century Fox with his son Lachlan. His other son, James, is chief executive of Fox and chairman of Sky. The Times, Matthew Moore


  1. ^ Corporate Political Engagement Index 2018. The new index of 104 multi-national companies, many of whom regularly meet with govt, has found nearly 75% are failing to adequately disclose how they engage with politicians. Only one company received the highest grade, with the average grade being "E" – representing poor standards in transparency. Transparency International UK, Nov.2018.