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Sky Television’s quartet of satellite channels (Sky Network) first went on air 25 years ago today (February 5th 1989), and using SES’ Astra satellite. The small cluster of channels, backed by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, doubled the number of channels available to British viewers.
The four initial channels, Sky News, Sky Movies, Sky Channel and Eurosport should have been at least 5 but Disney pulled out.
A rival system, British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) owned by a consortium comprising Granada, Pearson, Virgin and Amstrad, and officially licensed by the then Independent Broadcasting Authority, promised 5 channels which would be received on ‘Squarials’. BSB eventually launched a year after Sky (in March 1990).
Both sets of broadcasters lost money, and were merged into British Sky Broadcasting in November 1990. BSB’s two satellites (MarcoPolo 1 and 2) were later sold (to Telenor of Norway in 1992 and NSAB/Sirius of Sweden in 1993).