Advanced Television

Sky TV turns 35

February 5, 2024

By Chris Forrester

It was 35 years-ago today (February 5th 1989) that Sky TV’s first channels were launched over Europe and targeting the UK.

The Sky Channel went live at 6pm UK time together with Sky News, Sky Movies and Eurosport. It had been expected that a Disney-branded channel would also be included but on June 3th an agreement was reached between Sky and Disney which allowed Disney movies to be shown on Sky Movies for a 5-year period.

Disney launched its own channel on October 1st 1995.

July 31st 1989 saw ‘Sky Channel’ end and Sky One take its place and focussed on the UK and Ireland. Sky Movies was fully encrypted on February 5th 1990.

Some of the Sky News anchors and executives are still around, not least Kay Burley who is still very much on air (on the Sky News breakfast segment) while Andrew Neil (extreme left on the image, and who was CEO of the original four channels) is still seen on British television – although not Sky. Rupert Murdoch is front and centre.

Sky’s channels took advantage of the SES Astra 1A satellite which had launched a few weeks earlier on December 11th 1988.

Other channels which launched on or about February 5th 1989 were Scandinavia’s TV3, Germany’s Pro7, Sat.1, RTL Plus, 3sat and Teleclub, Dutch RTL4 as well as FilmNet. Launches in February or March included Screensport, MTV Europe and the Children’s Channel/Lifestyle.

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