Sky Television

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Sky Television was a public limited company which operated a four-channel satellite television service, launched by Rupert Murdoch's News International on 5 February 1989. Sky Television and its rival British Satellite Broadcasting suffered large financial losses and merged in November 1990 to form British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB).[1][2]


Sky Television plc was originally Satellite Television Ltd (SATV), a consortium set up by Brian Haynes in November 1980. Haynes was a former journalist employed at Thames Television. In 1979 he produced a documentary for the TV Eye strand which looked at Ted Turner and his satellite broadcasting operations in the USA from 1970 through the Turner Broadcasting System (now a media conglomerate and subsidiary of Time Warner).[3][4] He soon realised the potential of using satellites to provide a new kind of television broadcasting. Haynes first advised Thames Television, the Independent Broadcasting Authority and an industry group before setting up SATV.

In October 1981, SATV began test transmissions on the Orbital Test Satellite satellite after the European Space Agency allowed the company to test the satellite for the use of commercial television, with an hour of light entertainment in English each night. While at first the island of Malta was its official target, it had a wide, pan-European footprint. However, the low-powered satellite forced it to broadcast to cable systems rather than directly to individual satellite dishes, which proved to be a losing proposition.

European satellite television plans started in the late 1960s, when plans were first laid for an experimental satellite. The Orbital Test Satellite was deployed in May 1978 and allowed the necessary testing to allow for Europe's first commercial venture in telecommunications and television. From 1978 to 1981, OTS was successful in illustrating the viability of Ku-Band technology for the continent of Europe. Following the completion of its test programme, excess transponder capacity was leased to SATV. While governments in Britain and other European countries wrestled with the allocation of their channels, Satellite Television played a pioneering role, providing Europe's first satellite-delivered cable TV service.[5][6]


  1. Book: "High Above: The untold story of Astra, Europe's leading satellite company " by Chris Forrester ISBN 978-3642120084
  2. "New Scientist" Green light for Satellite television Bp 267 By Peter Marsh 21 October 1981
  3. "What's on the Satellite Tonight?" (1979)
  4. Book: A concise history of British television 1930–2000, By Tony Currie
  5. "Murdoch Broadcast Concern Sues Disney"
  6. "Disney Settles Fraud Suit With Murdoch's News Corp."