|Launched:||5th February 1989|
|Audience Share (Nov 2004):||0.7%|
|Terrestrial Analogue:||not available|
|Terrestrial Digital:||Freeview Channel 42|
|Satellite:||Sky Digital Channel 501
Astra 1E 11.597Ghz
The channel originally operated on a shoestring but quickly gained a reputation for journalistic integrity. Although the channel has reportedly run at a loss for much of its history its award-winning journalism has brought Sky Television and its successor British Sky Broadcasting some much-needed prestige. Today Sky News continues to maintain an impressive standard of journalism in the face of tough competition. It is undoubtedly the inspiration for Fox News, its U.S. sister channel with which it sometimes exchanges material. During 2003, plans to offer Sky News in the US were under consideration, but have since been dropped.
Main competitors in the UK are BBC News 24 and the ITV News Channel, while elsewhere in Europe it competes with BBC World and CNBC. A new service, for the Republic of Ireland, Sky News Ireland, started broadcasting in May 2004. As of 2004 rival news channels CNN International and Euronews, as well as Sky's US sister channel Fox News, are also available on Sky Digital.
Sky News has been featured in many blockbuster feature films including 20th Century Fox releases; Independence Day, Mission: Impossible, Behind Enemy Lines, Shaun of the Dead and The Day After Tomorrow. 20th Century Fox is another News Corp. asset.
Whilst it is fashionable for many of the newcomers to the news channel market to rapidly hire-and-fire presenters, Sky News is unique in that many of the original presenting team from the 1980s launch remain at the channel. However, one of its longest standing presenters, Bob Friend MBE, retired in 2004.
The station has not been without controversy. Whilst it has avoided accusations of bias unlike its sister network Fox News, the appointment of Kelvin Mackenzie, former editor of the Sun newspaper, in the early 1990s, caused the station to take its news values downmarket and concentrate on stories that would be more familiar to tabloid newspapers than its rivals at the BBC and ITN. Whilst the station has undoubtedly got past this in its news coverage, to the point of being nominated for International Emmy Awards, the public perception of downmarket coverage remained with the channel for a very long time. In a 1993 report on public trust in news outlets, it ranked far below the more established TV networks and newspapers.
Its coverage of the Louise Woodward trial in Boston, Massachusetts, garnered the channel international attention. Capitalising on the live broadcasts from the courtroom, Sky News covered the trial as-it-happened, with constant live coverage. After days of live courtroom television, Sky attempted to return to a more regular schedule, only to be inundated with complaints by viewers demanding that the trial return to the screens; Sky obliged. They also took the opportunity to rig up a huge television screen in a pub in Woodward's home village of Elton in Cheshire, with 24/7 coverage of the trial in progress. Villagers rallied round the screen, and Sky filmed their reactions to every detail of the trial. The channel came in for further criticism, with many accusing it of maintaining a pro-Louise Woodward stance, even after she was found guilty.
At the turn of the millennium, Sky began a process of expanding its international coverage, opening more overseas bureaux in Africa, Europe, the far East, and so on. Its coverage of the war in Kosovo eclipsed long-standing rivals at CNN and the BBC, both of whom could only just muster telephone reports, whilst Sky had live reporters in-vision across the region; for that, it won awards from the Royal Television Society and BAFTA, as well as a nomination for an International Emmy Award.
Its coverage of the September 11 attacks in 2001 brought more honours, and more recognition from BAFTA and the RTS. During the first week or so of the invasion of Afghanistan, Its U.S. sister station Fox News Channel substituted its late-night repeats of its own programming with a simulcast of Sky News.
In 2002/3, its coverage of the Soham Murders in Cambridgeshire gave the channel yet more awards, and the British Academy award for news coverage. Later that year, its (also award-winning) coverage of the Iraq conflict saw it yet again steal a march on its rivals, with US networks CBS and Fox News carrying much of its coverage.
A 2004 report listed Sky as second only to the BBC in terms of public trust in British news outlets.
It is currently preparing to undergo a major transformation, with the construction of a new studio complex and news centre, due to open in 2005.