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British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) ( ) is a company that operates Sky Digital, a subscription television service in the UK and Irelandmarker. It Belongs to Anthony Ward at Leisure Media for any recruitment bookings. It produces TV content, and owns several TV channels. It is the UKmarker's largest pay TV provider. More than a third of the equity is owned by News Corporation, an American company chaired by Rupert Murdoch; News Corporation's precise shareholding fluctuates due to share options and buy backs and was 39.1% at May 2009. As of 30 September 2008 it had 9,067,000 direct to home customers in the UK and Ireland. As of February 2007, it also had 3,294,000 indirect customers through the cable operator Virgin Media & through IPTV operator Tiscali TV in the UK, and a further 604,000 indirect cable customers on UPC Ireland in Irelandmarker. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index.


The Astramarker satellite network began with the launch of Astra 1A in 1989. With the launch of more Astra satellites from 1991 onward BSkyB was able to begin expanding its services (the Astra satellites were all orbitally co-located at 19.2° east so that they could be received using the same dish).
BSkyB logo December 2003 - November 2009 (still in wide use)
Sky does not own any of the satellites it has used since withdrawing service from the Marcopolo craft; the Astra satellites are owned and operated by SES Astramarker (and Eurobird 1 by Eutelsat). Sky has shared its orbital position with other pay-TV systems in the past.

Sky has also worked together with Tata Group bringing Tata Sky in India and substituary states.


Early years

Evolution of UK satellite television
By 1990 both Rupert Murdoch's Sky Television and the BSB alliance were beginning to struggle with the burden of massive losses which led to a 50:50 financial merger in November 1990.

The new company was called British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) but marketed as Sky, Marco Polo Housemarker was sold, BSB's channels were largely scrapped in favour of Sky's and the Marcopolo satellites were run down and eventually sold in favour of the Astra systemmarker (Marcopolo I in December 1993 to NSAB of Sweden and Marcopolo II in July 1992 to Telenormarker of Norway. Both companies had already one HS376 in orbit at the time). The merger may have saved Sky financially; Sky had very few major advertisers to begin with. Acquiring BSB's healthier advertising contracts and equipment apparently solved the company's problems.

Move to Digital

The launch of the Astra 2A satellite at a new orbital position, 28.2° eastmarker, in 1998 (subsequently followed by more Astra satellites as well as Eutelsat's Eurobird 1 at 28.5°E), enabled the company to launch a new all-digital service, Sky Digital, with the potential to carry hundreds of television and radio channels.


  • 1989 5 February — Sky television launches DTH UK service via Astramarker satellite
  • 1990 — Sky subscribers reach 1 million
  • 1990 November — British Sky Broadcasting formed by merger of Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB). Murdoch the majority shareholder through News International, BSB partners' Pearson, Reed, Chargeurs and Granada plc shareholdings were held through BSB Holdings Limited (BSBH)
  • 1991 — Of BSB's five channels; Now news programmes merged with Sky News and Sky Arts created to use Now programming, Galaxy merged with Sky One, The Sports Channel is rebranded to Sky Sports soon after the merger, and launches on Astra. This followed Sky's forced closure of its earlier venture Eurosport due to EU competition concerns. (The channel was later purchased by TF1 and relaunched.) The Movie Channel is retained and also launches on Astra. The Power Station remains broadcasting on Marcopolo until April. Sky One, Sky News and Sky Movies maintained.
  • 1992 July — BSkyB sells the former BSB Marcopolo II satellite to Telenormarker
  • 1992 — BSkyB signs exclusive live television rights deal with the FA Premier League
  • 1992 31 December — BSkyB ceases transmissions to Marcopolo I satellite following the IBA's withdrawal of the BSB franchise. Despite re-advertising the franchise, and attracting a number of expressions of interest, the franchise was not re-awarded, and UK DBS trasmissions from 31 degrees west ended, effectively making Astra 1 the UK's default satellite position.
  • 1993 1 September — "Sky Multichannel" packages launched
  • 1993 — December — BSkyB sells the former BSB Marcopolo I satellite to NSAB
  • 1994 — 17% of BSkyB is floated on the London and New York stock exchanges
  • 1994 — Five more channels launch, including Sky Sports 2
  • 1995 — Six more channels launched including History Channel and Disney Channel
  • 1995 — BSkyB enter the FTSE 100 Index
  • 1996 — BSkyB signs an extension of its Premier League rights for £670 million
Sky logo from 1995-1997
Sky logo from 1997-1998
  • 1998 30 August — First of a new generation of Astramarker satellites launched, paving way for digital satellite television. Sky Digital launches on 1 October
  • 1999 — Vivendi SA becomes sole shareholder of BSBH, which held 11.8% of BSkyB at the time. It also acquired the shareholding of Pathé through merger, bringing its total shareholding to 22% (as of 2001). BSkyB Chairman Jérôme Seydoux forced to resign due to sale of Pathé's interest; Murdoch takes Chairmanship to prevent Vivendi acquiring it (as it would be entitled to)
  • 2001 — BSkyB signs 5 millionth subscriber. Analogue service discontinued
  • 2001 — Sky+ introduced: A set top box/digital video recorder hybrid
  • 2001 — December — Vivendi Universal sells part of its shareholding comprising 8% of the company, followed by the remaining 14% in May 2002
  • 2002 — BSkyB takes an equal share of Freeview, in partnership with the BBC and Crown Castle (now part of National Grid)
  • 2003 — James Murdoch elected as CEO, replacing Tony Ball
  • 2003 — Sky subscribers reach 7.5 million
  • 2003 — Sky acquires the television series 24 from Fox which was previously shown on the BBC
  • 2004 1 November - ITV plc takes full control of GSkyB. Plus, one of GSB's channels, was closed down and replaced with ITV3.
  • 2005 — BSkyB purchase network provider Easynet for £211m ($373.1m).
  • 2005 — Sky launches Sky by Broadband, a service available to existing movie and sports service subscribers that allows them to download movies and sports clips direct to their home computer. The service is made available free of charge
  • 2006 — Sky HD launches on 22 May, with a line-up of 10 high definition channels
  • 2006 — Sky acquires to expand its internet presence
  • 2006 — Sky acquires Aura Sports Ltd to expand its internet media sales presence
  • 2006 — Sky achieves CarbonNeutral status
  • 2006 — Sky launches and allows pre-registering of its new broadband service
  • 2006 — Sky is listed as one of the applicants for the licence to manage Ireland's digital terrestrial television network
  • 2006 — Sky acquires Season 3 and 4 of Lost in a multi-million pound deal with Buena Vista International Television (previous series were shown on Channel 4)
  • 2006 — Sky controversially acquires 17.9% stake in ITV, Britain's largest free-to-air commercial broadcaster, blocking NTL's proposal.
  • 2006 — Sky rebrands VoD services, such as Sky By Broadband, as Sky Anytime, adding US imports to on-demand content.
  • 2007 — Sky announces plans to launch pay channels on the digital terrestrial platform.
  • 2007 — Secretary of State for Trade and Industry Alistair Darling asks media regulator Ofcommarker to investigate Sky's purchase of a stake in ITV plc.
  • 2007 — Sky's increased price demands causes Virgin Media to not renew the contract to provide Sky basic channels (effective from 1 March 2007) after negotiations falls through.
  • 2007 — BSkyB acquire electronics manufacturer Amstrad for a reported £133 million.
  • 2007 29 October — Sky Broadband reach 1 million customer mark.
  • 2007 29 October — BSkyB offer to give up part of their ITV voting rights after a ruling from the Competition Commission.
  • 2008 10 November — BSkyB announces that they will offer online TV. Satellite TV channels to be broadcast over the internet. No satellite receiver needed.
  • 2009 17 February — BSkyB announces that they will be replacing over 90,000 Sky+HD boxes due to a technical fault. Boxes will be replaced for free and customers will receive three months of HD services, free of charge. BSkyB have never confirmed the official reason for the recall, however have stated that the recall was not due to a safety issue.
  • 2009 19 October Sky unveils the Sky Songsmusic subscription service. For £6.49/month users can download 10 mp3s, and get unlimited streaming of over 4 million tracks. For £7.49/month, users get an additional 5 mp3s/month (a total of 15 tracks per month) plus the streaming service.

Corporate information


Total BSkyB viewing figures 1995-2008
Murdoch's News International (a wholly owned subsidiary of News Corporation) currently has a 38% stake in the company. News Corp also fully owns Sky Italia, about 78% of New Zealand's SKY Network Television Limited and of Croatiamarker and Montenegromarker.

The first CEO of BSkyB was Sam Chisholm, who was CEO of Sky TV before the merger. Chisholm served in this position until 1997. He was followed by Mark Booth who was credited with leading the company through the introduction of Sky Digital. Tony Ball was appointed in 1999 and completed the company's analogue to digital conversion. He is also credited with returning the company to profit and bringing subscriber numbers to new heights. In 2003 Ball announced his resignation and James Murdoch, son of Rupert Murdoch was announced as his successor. This appointment caused allegations of nepotism from shareholders.

On 7 December 2007 it was announced that Rupert Murdoch would be stepping down as BSkyB's Non-Executive Chairman and would be replaced by his Son, James. It was also announced that James would be stepping down as CEO of BSkyB and will be replaced by Jeremy Darroch


Direct subsidiaries

  • British Sky Broadcasting Ltd
    Operating company for the Sky pay-television service.
  • Sky Television Ltd
    The original Sky Television plc, now a holding company
  • Sports Internet Group Ltd
    Sports content and online betting services.
  • British Interactive Broadcasting Holdings Ltd
    Interactive television services, formerly an alliance of BSkyB, BT Group, HSBC and Matsushita.
  • Easynet Ltd
    Network infrastructure for Sky Broadband, Easynet connect, UK Online, and third party corporate customers.
    Being both an agency and a media owner, run many successful sites.
  • Aura Sports Ltd
    Media Sales Agency, sells advertising on the majority of premiership football club websites, as well as other major sports.
  • Aura Play Ltd
    Another Media Sales Agency, sells advertising across a number of websites in the music and entertainment sector.

Joint ventures


Other subsidiaries include Sky In-Home Service Ltd which installs Sky equipment, and the Luxembourg based British Sky Broadcasting SA which is the company which leases transponders on Astramarker satellites.

Financial Performance

Year ended Turnover (£m) Profit/(loss)
before tax (£m)
Net profit/
30 June 2008 4,952 60 (127)
30 June 2007 4,551 815 499
30 June 2006 4,148 798 551
30 June 2005 4,048 631 425
30 June 2004 3,656 480 322
30 June 2003 3,186 128 190
30 June 2002 2,776 (1,276) (1,383)
30 June 2001 2,306 (515) (539)
30 June 2000 1,847 (263) (272)
30 June 1999 1,545 (389) (285)
30 June 1998 1,434 271 249
30 June 1997 1,270 314 288
30 June 1996 1,008 257 -
30 June 1995 778 155 -
30 June 1994 550 93 -
30 June 1993 380 (76) -
30 June 1992 233 (188) -
30 June 1991 93 (759) -


The main headquarters are in Osterleymarker, London. Sky originated material is uplinked to the satellite from BSB's original earth station at Chilworthmarker, outside Southamptonmarker (and from the BT owned Madley Communications Centremarker and London Teleport earthstations).

The largest concentration of Sky staff in the UK is in Scotland; the main areas being in Livingstonmarker and Dunfermlinemarker. There is also Uddingstonmarker. These house Sky's contact centres as well as the IT departments, Finance departments and Field Operations. Other contact centres are in Yorkshire, Lancashire and Glasgow. There is also a contact centre dedicated to customer upgrades in Cardiffmarker, though this is outsourced to Conduit.


The Ofcom Consumer Panel complained that the BSkyB plan to operate pay TV services on Freeview was "generating serious consumer detriment" and the National Consumer Council call the BSkyB plan "bad news for consumers," combined with representations from BT, Setanta, Top Up TV, and Virgin Media has caused Ofcommarker to launch an investigation into the "features of the [UK pay TV] market, including control over content, ownership of distribution platforms, retail subscriber bases and vertical integration."

Virgin Media - Main Competition

At present the other major pay-TV operator in the United Kingdom is the service provider Virgin Media (Rebranded in 2007 from NTL:Telewest). Virgin Media's cable network was also formed by numerous mergers and acquisitions over the last decade, with different cable companies having used different types of network and technology in their areas.

Virgin Media currently includes Virgin Media Television, previously the content arm of Telewest known as Flextech Television, which owns several channels, including the Sky1's direct rival Virgin1 and a 50% stake in the UKTV network. Virgin is understood to be seeking to sell this business, and as at May 29, 2009, BSkyB is understood to have made the largest bid at auction.

Like Sky, Virgin Media offers a high-definition television (HDTV) capable set top box, although from 30 November 2006 until 30 July 2009 it only carried one linear HD channel, BBC HD, after the conclusion of the ITV HD trial. Virgin has claimed that other HD channels were "locked up" or otherwise withheld from their platform, although Virgin did in fact have an option to carry Channel 4 HD in the future. Nonetheless, the linear channels were not offered, Virgin instead concentrating on its Video On Demand service to carry a modest selection of HD content. Virgin has nevertheless made a number of statements over the years, suggesting that more linear HD channels are on the way.

In Q3 2009 Virgin announced that it was making more linear HD channels available on its platform, including FX HD, MTVN HD, Channel 4 HD, and National Geographic HD. Also expected to follow shortly is Living HD.

In 2007, BSkyB and Virgin Media became involved in a dispute over the carriage of Sky channels on cable TV. The failure to renew the existing carriage agreements negotiated with NTL and Telewest resulted in Virgin removing the basic channels from the network on 1 March 2007. Virgin claimed that Sky had substantially increased the asking price for the channels, a claim which Sky denied, on the basis that their new deal offered "substantially more value" by including HD channels and Video On Demand content which was not previously carried by cable.

In response, Sky ran a number of TV, radio and print advertisements claiming that Virgin media 'doubted the value' of the channels concerned, at first urging Virgin customers to call their cable operator to show their support for Sky, but later urging Virgin customers to migrate to Sky to continue receiving the channels. The broadcasting regulator Ofcom subsequently found these commercials in breach of their code.

The availability (at an extra charge) of Sky's premium sport and movie services was not effected by the dispute. This impasse continued for twenty-one months, with both companies initiating High Court proceedings. Amongst Virgin's claims to the court (denied by Sky) were that Sky had unfairly reduced the amount which it paid to VMTV for the carriage of Virgin's own channels on satellite.

Eventually, on 4 November 2008 it was announced that an agreement had been struck for Sky's Basic channels – including Sky1, Sky2, Sky3, Sky News, Sky Sports News, Sky Arts 1, Sky Arts 2, Sky Real Lives and Sky Real Lives 2 to return to Virgin Media from 13 November 2008 until 12 June 2011. In exchange will be provided continued carriage of Virgin Media Television's channels – Living, Livingit, Bravo, Bravo +1, Trouble, Challenge and Virgin1 for the same period.

The agreements include fixed annual carriage fees of £30m for the channels with both channel suppliers able to secure additional capped payments if their channels meet certain performance-related targets. Currently there is no indication as to whether the new deal includes the additional Video On Demand and High Definition content which had previously been offered by Sky. As part of the agreements, both Sky and Virgin Media agreed to terminate all High Court proceedings against each other relating to the carriage of their respective basic channels.

Television over ADSL services

Sky is facing increased competition from telecommunications providers delivering pay television services over existing telephone lines using ADSL. Such providers are potentially able to offer "triple-play" or "quad-play" packages combining land-line telephone, broadband Internet, mobile telephone and pay television services.

In the final quarter of 2006, BT, the UK's biggest Telephone company, launched BT Vision. The BT Vision set-top box, provides true Video on Demand (VoD) over BT's telephone lines using ADSL. The set-top-box complements the VoD component by providing access to the Freeview digital terrestrial television service. Tiscali TV also offers an IPTV service with many channels, including Sky's channels, delivered to a set top box over ADSL.

To compete with these providers, in October 2005, BSkyB bought the broadband Internet Service Provider Easynet for £211 million. This acquisition has allowed BSkyB to start offering its "Sky Anytime on PC" service as well as a "triple play" package combining satellite television, land-line telephone and Broadband service. Sky also offers some streaming live TV channels to a computer using Microsoft's Silverlight.

Digital Terrestrial Television

BSkyB initially faced competition from the ONdigital digital terrestrial television service (later renamed ITV Digital). ITV Digital failed for numerous reasons, including, but not limited to numerous administrative and technical failures, nervous investors after a large down-turn in the advertising market and the dot com crash, and BSkyB's aggressive marketing and domination of premium sporting rights.

Sky was more receptive to ITV Digital's free-to-air replacement, Freeview, in which it holds an equal stake with the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and National Grid Wireless. Prior to October 2005, three BSkyB channels were available on this platform: Sky News, Sky Three, and Sky Sports News. Initially BSkyB provided Sky Travel to the service. However, this was replaced by Sky Three on 31 October 2005, allowing BSkyB to air its exclusive licensed content with delays of between 12–18 months from their original air dates on Sky One.

Terrestrial television companies currently have limited bandwidth. This means that, at present, there is little or no option to offer HD services, until after the final analogue television services are switched off in 2012 freeing up substantial bandwidth.

In a response to the push towards Free to Air services such as Freesat and Freeview, BSkyB has marketed its own free to view offering (Freesat from Sky).

On 8 February 2007, Sky announced its intention to replace its three free-to-air digital terrestrial channels with four subscription channels. It was proposed that these channels would offer a range of content from the Sky portfolio including sport (including English Premiership Football), movies, entertainment and news. The announcement came a day after Setanta Sports confirmed that it would launch in March as a subscription service on the digital terrestrial platform, and on the same day that NTL's services rebranded as Virgin Media. However, industry sources believe Sky will be forced to shelve plans to withdraw its channels from Freeview and replace them with subscription channels, due to possible lost advertising revenue.

Stake in ITV plc

ITV plc has been the subject of a flurry of rumoured take-over and merger bids since it was formed. For example, on 9 November 2006, NTL announced that it had approached ITV plc about a proposed merger . The merger was effectively blocked by BSkyB on 17 November 2006 when it controversially bought a 17.9% stake in ITV plc for £940 million , a move that attracted anger from NTL shareholder Richard Branson and an investigation from media and telecoms regulator Ofcommarker. On 6 December 2006, NTL announced that it had complained to the Office of Fair Trading about BSkyB's move. NTL stated that it had withdrawn its attempt to buy ITV plc, citing that it did not believe that there was any possibility to make a deal on favourable terms. At the same time as the NTL bid, RTL, the owner of Five, was also rumoured to be preparing a bid for ITV plc, with the possibility of a stock-swap with BSkyB. The plan would see RTL acquiring BSkyB's stake in ITV plc (with the aim of further acquisitions of shares in the future) in exchange for BSkyB taking full control of Five. However, no move from RTL has yet materialised so far.


Sky Digital "mini-dish"


Sky has developed a new version of its Sky Guide electronic programme guide (EPG) service, which includes new genres, easier access to channels, and a complete renumbering system. It also includes new hotkeys to get into new menus quicker. This is the biggest change to the Sky EPG since its launch in 1998.

On Demand services

Sky Anytime is the current brand for Sky's on-demand services currently available on TV (Sky+ and Sky+ HD), and 3G mobile phones.Sky Anytime on PC has been rebranded to Sky Player

High Definition TV (HDTV)

BSkyB launched its HDTV service, Sky+ HD, on 22 May 2006. Leading up to the launch, Sky claimed that 40,000 people had signed up to the HD service. However, in the week before the launch rumours started to surface that Sky was having supply problems of its Set Top Box (STB) from manufacturer Thomson. Starting on Thursday 18 May, and then all through the weekend before launch, people were reporting that Sky had either cancelled or rescheduled its installations. Finally, the BBC reported that 17,000 customers had been let down for the launch due to failed deliveries. Some customers reported installations were only cancelled on the day of the launch. The episode was widely seen as being very embarrassing for Sky, who until that point had been extremely conservative in new service launch schedules. The supply problems were resolved shortly after launch.

According to figures published by Sky, there were 591,000 subscribers to the Sky HD service by 30 September 2008.

Football rights

BSkyB's purchase of broadcast rights for major sporting events, most importantly Premiership football, has been the bedrock of its success. The company paid over £300 million for the Premier League rights, beating the BBC and ITV, and has had a monopoly of live matches since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. Murdoch has described sport as a "battering ram" for pay-television, providing a strong customer base.

However, following a lengthy legal battle with the European Commission, which deemed the exclusivity of the rights to be against the interests of competition and the consumer, BSkyB's monopoly came to an end from the 2007–08 season. In May 2006 the Irish broadcaster Setanta Sports was awarded two of the six Premiership packages that the English FA offered to broadcasters. Sky picked up the remaining four for £1.3 billion.

BT offer a pay per view service of selected Premier League matches through their BT Vision service, and Virgin Media offer free highlights on the Virgin Media website.

In September 2008, BT announced that it is thinking of bidding for live Premier League matches when the bidding starts in January 2009.

Set Top Boxes and conditional access

Sky utilizes the VideoGuard pay-TV scrambling system owned by NDS, a News Corporation subsidiary. There are tight controls over use of VideoGuard decoders; they are not available as stand-alone DVB CAMs (Conditional Access Modules). BSkyB has design authority over all digital satellite receivers capable of receiving their service. The receivers, though designed and built by different manufacturers, must conform to the same user interface look-and-feel as all the others. This extends to the Personal video recorder (PVR) offering (branded Sky+). BSkyB initially charged additional subscription fees for using a Sky+ PVR with their service; waiving the charge for subscribers whose package included two or more premium channels. This changed as from 1 July 2007, and now customers that have Sky+ and subscribe to any Sky subscription package get Sky+ included at no extra charge. Customers that don't subscribe to Sky's channels can still pay a monthly fee to enable Sky+ functions. In September 2007, Sky launched a new TV advertising campaign targeting Sky+ at women. As of 31 March 2008 sky have 3,393,000 sky+ users.

Xbox 360 tie-up

On 29 May 2009 it was confirmed that Sky Player would be made available via Microsoft's Xbox 360 games console. Included is live streaming of various television channels, on-demand movies and live sports programming. This was a worldwide first for Microsoft, and only available in the UK and Ireland.

Channel restrictions in the Republic of Ireland

Sky subscribers in the Republic of Irelandmarker have a more restricted choice of channels compared to Northern Ireland or Great Britain subscribers. The standard Irish channels RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, TV3, TG4 and 3e are available to all Irish subscribers and unavailable by any other means on Satellite. However only BBC One Northern Ireland, BBC Two Northern Ireland and Channel 4 are available to Irish Sky subscribers. Free to air channels like the ITV family of channels, BBC Three, BBC Four, BBC News, BBC HD and Five can only be tuned via the Other Channels section. As these channels are only available via the Other Channels section it is not possible for Irish Sky+ or Sky HD subscribers to record programmes from these channels onto their boxes. Sky pays the BBC for the right to include BBC1 & BBC2 NI on the Irish EPG. It may be pressure from TV3 and/or lack of commercial value that Sky doesn't carry ITV channels on the Irish EPG. The BBC charter would suggest that the BBC can't pay the extra charge to be on British and Irish EPG, hence the lack of BBC3, 4 etc. The N.I. subscribers in some packages get RTÉ One, RTÉ Two and TG4, though occasional programs may be blacked out.

Television channels operated by BSkyB

See also


External links

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