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Sky

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Sky is the UK's foremost pay TV service and was the world's first satellite broadcasting business when it was launched by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in 1989. After a very shaky start, British Sky Broadcasting (or BSkyB) eventually established itself as one of the country's most profitable broadcasters, buying up rights to many of the UK's biggest sporting events. Almost a decade after its launch the service became the UK's first digital broadcaster, and now delivers more than 500 audio and video channels direct to around a third of all UK households. It has also diversified into broadband, telecoms and even (briefly) a music download service. In 2009, it was named as Britain's Most Admired Company by business magazine Management Today. Following the break-up of News Corporation in 2013, Sky's largest shareholder became Twenty-First Century Fox with a 39% stake. In 2014, the company acquired control of Fox's separate Sky-branded satellite broadcast subsidiaries in Italy and Germany to create a single Sky Europe entity. Two years later, Fox issued a new offer to take full control of the enlarged Sky business. THowever, intense opposition to the Murdoch empire in political and media circles made it appear increasingly unlikely that regulatory approval would be forthcoming. The Murdochs finally appeared to accept defeat in 2017. The Murdochs finally appeared to accept defeat in 2017. At the end of that year, they announced a shock decision to sell the bulk of 21st Century Fox, including Sky, to the Walt Disney Company. A rival offer subsequently materialised from Comcast, and the three companies began jockeying for control of the business. Comcast was ultimately successful, taking ownership of Sky - but not the other Fox assets - with a knock-out bid of £30.6bn.

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Competitors

See Media Sector index for other companies.

Brand & Activities

Sky has consistently led the transformation of broadcast media in the UK from old-style terrestrial services to a new generation of offering, accessible by TV, broadband internet or wireless platforms. However, despite its push into sophisticated delivery systems, and repeated attempts to match its rivals on commissioned content, Sky remains heavily dependent on sport, news, movies and imported entertainment. The company also has a historically fractious relationship with the UK broadcast regulator Ofcom as a result of a series of run-ins over the years, prompted by repeated complaints from competitors over Sky's dominance of the sector, and also the influence of its biggest shareholder, Rupert Murdoch. Despite the wider footprint provided by the 2014 absorption of Sky in Germany and Italy, the company faces arguably its biggest challenge in the UK from the significantly increased competition from BT and streaming media suppliers such as Netflix.

Sky UK TV

Now an entirely digital service, Sky broadcast direct to just under 13.0m households in the UK & Ireland by the end of 2017. Another 3.3m households receive Sky's free and mass-market channels via Virgin Media, Freeview and other cable or online providers.

Sky+ is the company's personal video recorder brand, allowing storage of specified programming for future viewing as well as catch-up services. Sky Anytime+ combines the Anytime and services as a video-on-demand service. Around 90% of subscribers select that service. One of the group's most successful new product launches was its high-definition service, introduced in 2006. The number of subscribers to that service doubled or more in each of 2009 and 2010. Sky Q is its next generation service, offering streaming across multiple different viewing platforms, additional simultaneous feeds, voice search and other customer-friendly features.

In 2007, the group took manufacturing of its set-top boxes inhouse by agreeing to pay £125m to acquire Amstrad, the technology company founded by entrepreneur Alan Sugar which had previously handled these duties under contract. The former Amstrad now forms the core of Sky's technical research and supply chain division.

In total Sky broadcasts over 500 separate TV and radio channels through its main satellite offering, including 40 wholly owned channels along with pay-per-view streams and more than 200 free-to-air TV and radio feeds. Despite the growth in customer numbers and the proliferation of channels, the company's overall share of the television viewing audience has remained comparatively low. By the end of 2017, Sky-branded channels claimed a combined average of between 8% and 9% BARB share of the total viewing audience. It was the 4th largest broadcaster, but still sat far behind the BBC (31%-32%), ITV (21%-22%) and even Channel 4 (10%-11%). Its most-watched channel, Sky 1, attracted only 1.0% of the local audience.

There are four main main Sky-branded channel families. Sky 1 broadcasts entertainment and lifestyle programming, much of it bought in from the US, but with an increasing amount of locally commissioned content. Gladiators and Don't Forget The Lyrics were its most successful commissioned shows in 2008, also the year Sky 1 was named as Entertainment Channel of the year in the Broadcast Digital Channel Awards. Reality series An Idiot Abroad proved to be an unexpected crossover hit in 2011. There are also a growing number of high quality scripted comedies and dramas, including thriller series Mad Dogs, Hit & Miss, Fortitude and The Enfield Haunting. The channel's most successful commissioned drama to-date was Riviera, which premiered in 2017.

Sky 1 is now accompanied by a number of other Sky-branded catch-up and general entertainment channels: Sky2, Sky3 and so on. In 2010, the channel agreed an exclusive arrangement with US pay-TV giant HBO to acquire local rights to that channel's output, and this formed the core of a new premium channel, Sky Atlantic, which launched in early 2011. Games of Thrones, Westworld and - until 2015 - Mad Men have been key series.

Sky News claims to be the UK's leading 24 hour news channel by audience share, and also has the contract to supply news to terrestrial channel Five. It has been named as News Channel of the Year by the Royal Television Society seven times since 2002. Premium-rate Sky Sports has long held a stranglehold on sports broadcasting in the UK with exclusive coverage of live Premiership football, as well as numerous other football, cricket, rugby and other events. That grip was loosened, but only very slightly, in 2005 when the European Commission ruled that Sky could control no more than five of the six packages of Premiership games. Yet the subsequent collapse of main competitor Setanta Sports, left Sky with an even more dominant presence by 2010. In 2012, Sky won the auction of five packages for the next three-year contract, running from 2013 to 2016, with a greatly increased bid. The channel also provides sponsorship to several sports events and teams. Its biggest success to-date has been with the Team Sky cycling team, whose lead rider Bradley Wiggins became the first ever British winner of the Tour de France in 2012. In 2015, Sky secured a further three years of Premier League coverage, acquiring a similar set of five match packages, but at a significantly higher price. Total cost of the renewed contract was £4.18bn over three years, or £1.4bn per season, up from £751m per season for 2013/16. The contract was renewed for a further three years until 2022 in 2018.

Sky Movies, also paid-for, is the umbrella for a clutch of separate film channels broadcasting around 450 movies every week on 11 core channels. These are now themed according to content (Sky Family, Sky Classics, Sky Comedy etc), and backed up with multiple pay-per-view movie strands. The group acquired broadcast rights for the entire James Bond series in 2012, which now plays on its own channel. The company launched three music TV channels, Flaunt, Bliss and Scuzz, in 2003 in a bid to dent the dominance of MTV and a clutch of similar music channels run by EMAP. However these failed to make significant headway, and management of the three strands was contracted out to independent Chart Show Channels in 2004. Sky also operates satellite-only Sky Travel and gambling strand Sky Vegas Live, and took full control of Artsworld, now Sky Arts, in 2006.

In addition, BSkyB has stakes in a wide variety of other joint venture channels which are managed under its Sky Ventures umbrella. These include The History Channel (a 50% joint venture with US-based A&E Networks); Nickelodeon UK and Nick Jr (50% in joint ventures with Viacom) and Comedy Central (25% also with Viacom). It also has stakes in At The Races (48%, with Arena Leisure), Manchester United TV (33%) and Chelsea TV (35%). The group sold its 20% shareholding in shopping channel QVC and its 49% in Granada Plus in 2004. In 2009 it made a knockout bid of £160m to acquire a collection of channels from Virgin Media, including Living, Challenge and Bravo. That deal was agreed in summer 2010.

In summer 2012, the group launched an internet TV service for new customers under the name Now TV. It offers pay-per-view or subscription packages to the company's movie catalogue, and was designed to counter competition from streaming services Netflix and Amazon/Lovefilm.

Sky Broadband & Mobile UK

In addition to its satellite TV service, Sky has also pushed aggressively into other related areas. In 2005, the group took its first steps into broadband internet services, acquiring service provider Easynet. It subsequently invested a further £400m to upgrade Easynet's network, making it the platform for the rollout of a Sky-branded consumer broadband offering, which also provides Sky Talk fixed line phone services and TV-on-demand, now under the Sky Store or Sky Go banners. In an unexpected development, Sky sealed a deal in 2013 to acquire mobile operator O2's UK broadband and fixed line telephony service, including separately branded Be, for around £200m. That boosted total broadband subscribers to around 6.2m by Q4 2017, making Sky the UK #2 behind BT and ahead of Virgin Media. It has also pushed aggressively into traditional wireless telecoms services with the launch of Sky Mobile.

It also dabbled in numerous other areas. Towards the end of 2009, the group launched music download service Sky Songs, offering customers a set number of downloads and unlimited streaming for a fixed monthly subscription. However demand was muted and the service shut down a year later.

The group also offers a variety of interactive TV services, but performance has until recently been patchy. Between 1999 and 2004 Sky experimented with a number of different offerings, some of which proved to be expensive failures. The first of these was Open, an interactive shopping and banking service, launched in 1999 as a joint venture with BT, HSBC and Matsushita. By 2001, the group had bought out its three partners and later rebranded the service as Sky Active, offering a variety of interactive services including shopping and local listings. That business failed to take off, though, and was eventually shut down in 2004. Far more lucrative was Sky Bet interactive betting, linked to Sky's sports channels, but also including casino games and other gambling services. Revenues for ye 2014 were £182m, but the following year the group sold an 80% stake in the business to a management buyout, for a huge profit of £620m. The remaining shares were sold in ye 2018.

Combined revenues from Sky UK & Ireland rose 4% in the ye 2018 to £8.93bn, with EBITDA of £1.89bn.

Sky Europe

Sky also now includes two previously separate Sky satellite services in Europe. These were originally owned by parent News Corporation, but its shares in both were acquired by what was then corporate entity BSkyB in July 2014 for $8.6bn plus BSkyB's 21% stake in National Geographic Channel, a joint venture with National Geographic magazine. Sky Italia was created in 2003 from the merger of News Corp's loss-making Italian pay-TV network Stream with rival Telepiu, formerly owned by Vivendi. Having spent several years negotiating unsuccessfully with Vivendi's Jean-Marie Messier to combine the two businesses, Murdoch was finally able to secure a knock-down price for Telepiu after the French group went into financial meltdown. News Corp ended up with 100% of the business, having acquired Telecom Italia's 20% towards the end of 2004. The group has commissioned several homegrown drama series to boost its local audience, including Gomorrah and The Young Pope, and has the local license in Italy for talent show The X Factor and cooking competition Masterchef. The total number of subscribers at June 2018 was just over 4.8m. Sky Italia reported revenues of £2.63bn in ye 2018 and EBITDA of £342m.

In early 2008, News made a tentative return to the German-speaking pay-TV market, acquiring an initial 15% holding in local market-leader Premiere for around €287m. It changed its name to Sky Deutschland in the summer of 2009. A series of further share purchases have gradually increased News' stake. In January 2013 it took majority control for the first time, raising its holding to 54.5%. By June 2018, Sky had just under 5.2m direct subscribers in Germany and Austria (and a small number of additional wholesale customers). It offers a variety of television and digital radio channels, and has first rights to show matches from Germany's Bundesliga premier soccer division and the UEFA Champions League. It too has begun to produce original content, securing the license for the Masterchef series format for German-language markets. In 2017, it launched scripted drama Babylon Berlin, the most expensive TV series ever made in Germany. However it faces fierce competition from Deutsche Telekom's fast-growing Entertain service. Sky Deutschland reported revenues of £2.02bn for ye 2018 and EBITDA of £119m.

Ownership

Following the break-up of News Corporation in 2013, Twenty-First Century Fox became the controlling shareholder in BSkyB with around 39% of equity. The remaining shares are publicly held. In June 2010, the old News Corp made an offer to buy back the 61% of BSkyB it doesn't already own for around £7.8bn. That offer, which valued the group at around £12.6bn, was rejected as too low by BSkyB's independent directors. News Corp returned with a higher offer of £8.3bn, which was accepted. In order to appease regulators concerned about the group's dominant position in UK news reporting, News Corp proposed the spin-off of Sky News as a separate company. It would retain its 39% stake in that business, but the remaining shares would be owned by existing BSkyB shareholders. As a result of the Sky News concession, the government gave its tentative backing to the takeover.

However, in July 2011 long-simmering controversy over phone hacking by reporters working for News Corp's newspaper division erupted into a full-blown scandal. This put considerable pressure on the proposed BSkyB acquisition. Eventually, News Corp succumbed to demands from numerous politicians including the Prime Minister to withdraw its bid for Sky. Following intense pressure from rival media and politicians, an investigation was launched to determine whether, as a sister company to the News of the World and also under Murdoch control, BSkyB was "fit and proper" to hold a broadcasting license. The regulator Ofcom found no fault with the company, though it made some criticism of former chairman & CEO James Murdoch.

Following the split of the old News Corp into 21st Century Fox and a new News Corporation entity, Fox made a new attempt to take full control of Sky in 2017. The offer was cleared by European regulators, but renewed opposition in the UK prompted a referral of the offer to competition regulators. A decision was repeatedly postponed. As it became increasingly obvious that approval would not be forthcoming, the Murdochs began looking at alternative strategies. At the end of 2017, they agreed a deal to sell the bulk of Fox's entertainment assets, including the Sky stake, to Disney. Shortly afterwards, the UK's competition regulator provisionally denied approval of Fox's acquisition of the outstanding Sky shares.

The following year, Fox announced plans to sell the bulk of its entertainment assets, including the 39% stake in Sky, to Walt Disney. However, a rival bid emerged soon afterwards from Comcast. After months of bid and counter-bid, Comcast dropped out of the bidding for the bulk of the Fox portfolio to press ahead with an offer for Sky.

Financials

BSkyB revenues for the year ending June 2014 rose 6.5% to reach a new high of £7.61bn. However, pretax profits slipped back from the previous year's record £1.26bn to £1.08bn. Direct-to-home subscription fees accounted for by far the largest proportion of sales - £6.25bn - with wholesale revenues from cable resellers such as Virgin Media contributing just £422m. Sky's advertising revenues for year ending 2014 were £472m, equivalent to around 22% share of total TV spend. The company has continued to increase its investment in commissioned entertainment programming, but the cost of sports and movie rights remain by far the biggest elements in its production budget. These after all are the two elements which drive subscription growth. Total programming costs were £2.66bn. Sports costs alone account for more than half of spend.

For the year to June 2015, the addition of the Sky-branded services in Germany and Italy contributed significantly to a 34% leap in statutory revenues to £9.99bn for the UK-based company, which changed its name from BSkyB to Sky plc. On a proforma basis, with a full-year contribution from continental Europe, the equivalent figure would be £11.28bn, a like-for-like increase of 5%. Reported pretax profits soared by 54% to £1.52bn as a result of big gains from the sale of Sky Bet and other investments. Total customer numbers topped 21m.

Sky reported solid progress for the year ended June. Continuing revenues were up 6% to £11.97bn. However, without the exceptional gains reported in the previous year from disposals, net profit plunged by two-thirds to £663m. Excluding these and other items, operating profits edged up 1%. The core UK & Ireland service remains the motor of the business, contributing 70% of revenues and virtually all profits. However, operations in Germany & Austria and Italy showed solid progress.

Revenues to June 2017 rose by 8% to £12.92bn, helped by currency rates. Growth at constant rates was 5%. UK & Ireland is still the biggest business by far, but revenues were up only 3% to £8.60bn. Italy contributed £2.46bn (up 18%) and Germany & Austria £1.86bn (up 23%). However, the domestic business still generated over 88% of operating profits. Subscriptions accounted for a total of £10.9bn, advertising for £826m, and programme & channel sales for £778m. Net income edged up by 4% to £691m. Operating profits were actually down year-on-year because of the steep increase in programming costs, up 19% on the year before to a whopping £6.2bn.

Revenues for the year to June 2018 rose by 6% overall to £13.6bn, with the strongest growth coming from Germany/Austria and Italy, previously the company's weaker markets. Both reported revenues up 6%, compared to a 4% lift in the UK. Subscriptions accounted for a total of £11.8bn, advertising for £917m, and programme & channel sales for £838m. Net profit jumped 18% to £815m.

Management & Marketers

James Murdoch became CEO of BSkyB in 2003 and led the business very effectively for four crucial years. He was promoted to non-executive chairman at the end of 2007, as well as chairman & CEO of all News Corp activities in Europe and Asia, including the UK newspaper publishing division. However, the subsequent phone-hacking scandal at the latter business, and the question of how much Murdoch knew about it, put him under intense pressure from summer 2011. This also led some critics to ask whether, under his leadership, Sky should be allowed to keep its broadcasting license. Having already surrendered his directorship at News International, Murdoch also stepped down as chairman of BSkyB in April 2012. He was replaced as non-executive chairman by Nicholas Ferguson, but remained a director. He was reappointed as chairman in Jan 2016, but stepped ddown once again in 2018 following Sky's acquisition by Comcast.

Background

Rupert Murdoch's business career has been punctuated by a series of audacious gambles, and Sky was certainly one of the biggest. By the end of the 1980s, Murdoch already had considerable experience of the television business, originally in Australia, then as one of the early investors in the UK's London Weekend Television during the 1970s. However the acquisition of Times Newspapers in 1981, added to News of the World and The Sun which he already owned, effectively barred him from playing any further role in UK television. Government regulation prevented newspaper publishers with more than 20% market share from controlling a terrestrial broadcaster.

These regulations did not apply to companies broadcasting via new satellite technology instead of the existing terrestrial transmitter network. Murdoch took one of the biggest risks of his career to launch his own satellite television station, broadcasting 24 hours a day nationally to the UK. His plan was to offer four channels initially, two offering free entertainment and news, the other two providing movies and sports for a subscription fee. The consensus of opinion within the UK media was that the gamble stood a very high chance of failing. Most observers were convinced that the viewing audience would never choose to pay for television programmes when there were already four strong channels available to them for free. In addition, viewers were obliged to install a new satellite dish in addition to their existing terrestrial aerial. Sharpening the challenge was the arrival of a competitor, BSB, which planned a similar selection of services. BSB was effectively endorsed by the IBA, the UK's broadcasting authority, whereas Sky was generally perceived by the media establishment as an upstart and an outsider.

The factor even Murdoch had not taken into account was the arrival of a severe economic recession shortly after both Sky and BSB launched in 1989 and 1990 respectively. As interest rates rose, both companies began to suffer as the cost of servicing their huge debts spiralled. Worse still, initial public response to satellite television proved lukewarm at best, proving the sceptics right. As a result of the tiny viewing audiences, advertisers too were slow to take the leap. The future of Sky TV, and even of News Corporation itself, was beginning to look very bleak indeed. Luckily for Sky, BSB was the first to crack. Sky took over its competitor in 1990 to become BSkyB. But this only increased the group's costs - the company was reported to be losing £14m a week by the end of that year.

Two things saved Sky. The first was tough new chief executive Sam Chisolm, who cut costs mercilessly, renegotiating contracts to buy programmes cheaper. The second was a bold all-or-nothing deal in 1992 to secure exclusive live broadcasts of Premier League football matches, outbidding terrestrial broadcasters BBC and ITV. Adding to the company's good fortune, the increasing take-up of cable television which also supplied Sky programming into UK homes caused audiences to grow rapidly in 1992 and 1993.

By 1994, Sky's offering had grown from four channels to almost 20, some branded to Sky, the others joint ventures with US partners. BSkyB floated that year, then Britain's biggest non-privatisation float. The company used part of the proceeds to back a buying spree in the UK sports industry. BSkyB quickly built up a strong portfolio of exclusive sporting broadcast rights, including the dominant position in UK televised football, cricket and rugby, in a series of high price deals. One of the biggest was a £670m deal in 1996 to secure viewing rights for Premier League football for five years.

In order to bolster the output of its sports channels, BSkyB tried to buy UK soccer giants Manchester United for $1bn in 1998. But the deal was subsequently vetoed by regulators. Instead, the company signed strategic alliances with other key football clubs including Chelsea, Leeds United and Sunderland as well as Manchester United, taking small equity stakes and securing media rights. Also in 1998, the group launched the first digital broadcast service in the UK, Sky Digital, and announced plans to switch off its analogue signal by 2002.

Between 1996 and 1998 Rupert Murdoch attempted to spread his net across Europe as well, forging partnerships with pay TV operators in France, Italy and Germany. In 1997, France's Canal+ acquired a 17% stake in BSkyB in anticipation of a more wide-ranging alliance, but regulatory obstacles and negative French press subsequently got in the way of a deal. Utilities and media conglomerate Vivendi became the ultimate parent of Canal+ in 1998, and began to press for a new deal in 1999. The French group acquired further stakes from other BSkyB shareholders and attempted to broker a merger of Canal+ and BSkyB, but with little success. In Germany, BSkyB acquired a significant stake in Germany's KirchPayTV.

In early 2000, News Corporation announced plans to spin off all of its global satellite television interests in a new business, to be named Sky Global Networks. This entity was intended to take over News Corp's 40% stake in BSkyB as well as its interests in Hong Kong's Star TV and minority stakes in Japan Sky Broadcasting, Sky Latin America, Germany's Premiere, Italy's Stream and Foxtel in Australia. The announcement led to a series of feverish negotiations as both Vivendi and Kirch attempted to add their own broadcast interests into what was expected to be the world's biggest media IPO, set for 2000 or 2001. Vivendi proved particularly aggressive in the negotiations, especially after its own acquisition of Seagram's Universal Entertainment businesses.

In 2001, another general economic downturn and especially a fall in advertising revenues, forced News Corporation to revise its plans for Sky Global Networks. At the same time, the group became embroiled in a long and seemingly fruitless series of negotiations to crown its plans with the purchase of US satellite broadcaster DirecTV. By 2002 financial problems at both Vivendi and Kirch further complicated the Sky Global concept, which was effectively put on hold. However Sky itself continued to perform strongly, hitting its anticipated target of 5m subscribers in 2001, and shutting down its analogue signal early to become a digital-only broadcaster. The group launched its Sky+ Personal Television Recorder at the end of the year as a rival to TiVo. In 2002, another rival broadcaster ITV Digital (originally launched as OnDigital) collapsed under the weight of its massive debts, leaving Sky once again the only serious player in the digital market.

As ITV also struggled with falling advertising revenues and audience shares, Sky pressed ahead with new expansion plans. In 2002 the group scored a major coup in capturing highly regarded Dawn Airey as managing director, Sky Networks, and revealed plans to sharply increase spending on "original content". (Airey left the company in 2007). The group continued to extend its hold on sports coverage in 2003, agreeing a further three-year package for exclusive live rights to all Premier League football matches from 2004 until 2006, at a cost of £1bn. However this led to growing conflict with European regulators who forced the group to sub-license some matches to terrestrial UK broadcasters. The EC also ruled that the Premier League must sell rights to more than one broadcaster after 2006. Later in the year, chief executive Tony Ball, the successor to Sam Chisholm, and widely credited for the successful transformation of Sky into Europe's most profitable pay-TV business, announced he would step down from the company in 2004 at the end of his contract. Despite considerable protest from shareholders and unions, Rupert Murdoch's son James was confirmed as Ball's replacement. In a bid to appease protestors, Rupert Murdoch announced he would remain chairman, but would appoint Lord Rothschild as an "impartial" deputy chairman.

In 2006, BSkyB acquired a shareholding of just under 18% in the UK's leading free-to-air commercial broadcaster ITV for around £940m. (The group was prevented from owning more than 20% of ITV by cross-media ownership regulations). That deal led to a bitter publicity war with cable operator Virgin Media, which had itself been considering a bid for ITV. The row was exacerbated early the following year by a new dispute with Virgin Media over the wholesale price charged by Sky for supply of its free-to-air channels to the cable group's customers. In Feb 2007, Sky blocked supply of its free channels to Virgin Media, and subsequently agreed a separate deal to offer these via smaller cable competitor Tiscali TV (now TalkTalk TV). Sky also withdrew its channels from the Freeview digital TV service and instead announced plans to launch its own digital terrestrial television service, Picnic, accessible via a standard digital aerial. However, because of long delays in the investigation of the service by TV regulators, Sky cancelled plans for the service altogether later in the year.

In the mean time, Virgin called for the ITV share purchase to be referred to regulators, and the UK's Competition Commission subsequently agreed that the holding could restrict competition. In Jan 2008, it recommended that Sky should be forced to reduce its holding to less than 7.5%. That recommendation was ratified by the UK government by the end of the month. An appeal lodged by Sky was rejected in Sept 2008, as were a series of subsequent appeals. Sky eventually reduced its holding to just under the specified 7.5% in Feb 2010.

However, by then Sky and Virgin had agreed a truce over carriage fees for the free channels, which returned to Virgin Media at the end of 2008. However that didn't prevent a new row with the UK's broadcast regulator, which ruled in June 2009 that Sky should make cuts of as much as 30% in the rate at which it wholesaled its paid-for sport and movie channels to other operators such as Virgin for resale by them to their own customers. (Virgin is thought to make a loss on the resale of Sky Sports coverage). Ironically, Sky eventually sold on what had by then become a 6.4% shareholding in ITV in 2014 to Liberty Global, the new owner of Virgin Media, for £481m.

Last full revision 8th November 2017

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