Sky News Launches ‘In the Margins’
Sky have always placed a certain amount of pride in the journalistic rigour and careful thought exhibited by their 24 hour rolling news channel Sky News. Since its launch in 1989 the channel has been at the forefront of televisual journalism, breaking stories and leading the world when it came to analysis and coverage. It’s for that reason that Sky News are so proud to launch their latest project In the Margins. In the Margins will begin on the 5th of January and will be a major project that will examine 150 key marginal constituencies up and down the country. Between these constituencies, Sky argues, the election will be won, and with such tight margins of victory up for grabs, Sky’s analysis of these areas could become crucial to understanding how the election was eventually won. Every day, another report will be broadcast bringing us right to election day on the 7th of May.
It’s not just TV that’s getting to join the In the Margins fun though, because the initiative is set to feature heavily across all Sky News platforms, especially their digital ones. Those who access the content via the news application or website, they’ll receive deeper analysis, profiles of constituencies and extensive background information about the voting patterns of those particular constituents. The information is set to prove vital in understanding what is sure to be one of the tightest votes in Britain’s long history. Sky will also be putting a heavy emphasis on young votes, featuring their Stand Up and Be Counted campaign which highlights the political voices of 16 to 25 year olds within the country. This content will appear on the TV as well as in blogs, on social media and across the digital platforms.
Sky News’ political editor Faisal Islam will be examining the challenges that each of the major parties face as the race becomes increasingly affected by the likes of the SNP, Green Party and UKIP, who are bringing new voters in, stealing votes and changing the way we vote to keep others out of power. Simultaneously, Joey Jones will be on a journey from London to Scotland, dropping by constituencies as he goes and seeking out the people who will ultimately decide who governs Britain over the next four years. In addition, over the 150 days you’ll see some of Sky News’ most recognisable faces appearing live across the country with the likes of Kay Burley, Jason Farrell, Niall Paterson, Eamonn Holmes and many others working hard to help you better understand the election.
John Ryley, Head of Sky News, had this to say of the new segment: “In the Margins will offer our customers the ultimate way to get under the skin of how this country is feeling about politics in the run up to May’s General Election. The rise of the smaller parties has sent a clear message to the government and opposition that the electorate are frustrated with what the traditional parties have to offer, making the outcome of the 2015 election one of the most exciting in recent history.”
Vodafone Could Buy Sky in 2015
An analyst has made a shock claim regarding the future of Sky as he suggests a Vodafone takeover bid is just around the corner, and could be completed in the early months of 2015. The ever present ‘sources familiar with the matter’ have confirmed the existence of Vodafone’s talks and agree that a big is likely. The move, if true, would completely shake up the UK pay-TV industry and give Vodafone the power it needs to battle the huge marketing budget of EE. The news is also striking given how recent rumours had Sky in negotiations with Vodafone to borrow some of their network infrastructure to launch a Sky mobile network, which would allow them to sell increasingly popular ‘quad-play’ packages. It would appear, however, that upon considering the deal, Vodafone have come to the conclusion that the recently expanded Sky (which now also operated in Germany and Italy) would make more sense to own than to be a partner with. Sky is currently valued at around £15 billion, though it’s unlikely that majority shareholders in the company would allow it to be sold for market value, especially during a time where their potential to open up the market has increased drastically
The move would also mirror that of BT, who are currently attempting to buy EE (formally Orange and T-Mobile) for a staggering £12.5 billion. That deal would also see a mobile network and a pay-TV company coming together under one roof and offering multi play deals for their customers. Vodafone, sensing how this might affect their business, are likely just considering their options should the deal go through, but they do have the cash required to pull off such an audacious purchase, and now that Sky operates in a couple of Vodafone’s key markets (Germany and Italy) the deal could be an excellent one for Vodafone.
Paolo Pescatore, a director at analyst firm CCS Insight has joined in the debate, stating “We predict that Vodafone buys Sky next year. It would give the company access to the fast-growing pay TV market. They are a good fit strategically and Vodafone has the cash. It would be very complementary in the UK, Germany and Italy.” Indeed, a source within the company also said “There’s definitely the potential for Vodafone and Sky to happen. Vodafone is pretty keen to build up its offering.”
The move could be good for Sky too, who have seen record numbers of people searching for the number for Sky customer services asking if they can match Virgin Media on their quoted quad-play prices. It would also take the burden off their investors who are increasingly worried about the extremely competitive UK TV market, which has not been favouring the Murdoch-owned company for a little while now. If they do decide to sell, we would expect to hear further rumblings regarding the deal within the next couple of months. At present though, these are just well founded rumours, and these sorts of deals often fall through for a number of reasons. Still, it’s food for thought and could completely change the UK market.
Nottingham Forest Win Sky Bet Transfer Fund
Nottingham Forest fans are rejoicing today as it’s announced that their team has won £250,000 in transfer budget from Sky Bet as part of their Transfer Fund competition. The shortlist was pulled randomly from all the bets placed by fans of teams in the Football League when they bet on a game featuring their team. From there, Sky Bet pulled 10 tickets at random. The list, which also included Fulham, Cardiff, Leeds, Watford, Wigan, Huddersfield, Exeter and Southend, was then drawn once more to determine which side would receive the transfer money. The odds on favourite for the draw was in fact Leeds United, who had two tickets pulled in the initial draw, this giving them a 1/5 chance of taking home the transfer money. Luck wasn’t in Leeds’ favour though, as Nottingham Forest took home the transfer fund for the January window.
Confusion has arisen, however, regarding the use of this money. Nottingham Forest, alongside Leeds and Blackburn have been hit with a transfer embargo by the Football League. This is in punishment for making losses of greater than £3 million during the 2013 season and means that none of the clubs are allowed to pay any fees to clubs for loans or transfers. That goes directly against the nature of the Sky Bet Transfer Fund, and many were wondering what the clubs would do if they were awarded the money.
As it turns out, the Football League (who are heavily sponsored by Sky Bet, we should note) are allowing the quarter of a million pound investment to be spent on players wages, leaving open the opportunity to bring in free agents or loan deals where the club do not demand a fee for the deal to take place. That news will help Nottingham Forest breathe a sigh of relief, as that money won’t have to go to waste.
Nottingham Forest are currently 9th in the Championship, though given the incredibly competitive nature of the league they’re only nine points away from the top of the league and the same number of points away from the bottom. As such, the transfer fund could do wonders for their season and help catapult them towards the play off places.
Sky will be extremely happy with the response they received with their Transfer Fund initiative, and following many positive calls to the Sky help contact number have decided to relaunch the Transfer Bet and are now accepting bets which will give teams the chance to win another £250,000 during the summer transfer window in 2015.
Sky have also recently announced their intention to sell off 80% Sky Bet to a investment fund earlier in the month for £800 million, a deal which will see them retain a stake in the company but use that money to reinvest in their battle against the likes of Virgin and BT. It will also help cover the wages of some of Sky’s biggest signings of the year, like Thierry Henry, who just signed a £4 million a year deal with the company to become a professional football pundit with the company.
Ten Fans in the Running to Win Sky Bet Transfer Fund
Ten fans are in the running to win Sky Bet’s Transfer Fund for 2014, which would see them winning £5000 for themselves and £250,000 in transfer funds for their club of choice. It’s an annual event which awards one ticket to each person who bets on a British football match during the course of the year. Earlier in the year, Sky Bet had claimed that Leeds had the most number of bets, but the true number of bets was kept under lock and key until today, when the Football League, in conjunction with Sky Bet announced the runners and riders for this years fund. Join us as we explore the shortlist below.
J Spurr (Huddersfield Town)
Tony Richards (Fulham)
Christopher Goodwin (Cardiff City)
Brenda Wall (Leeds United)
Jason Woods (Southend United)
Jay Dave (Watford)
Shaun Lander (Nottingham Forest)
Jason Worth (Exeter City)
Matthew Peat (Wigan Athletic)
Tom Howe (Leeds United)
Leeds United are the only club to appear twice on the list, which gives them a 1/5 chance of winning the transfer pot, whilst both Exeter City and Southend United are the lowest league clubs, and could seriously benefit from a cash injection of a quarter of a million pounds. Southend United in particular could use the money to match the price they paid for Billy Paynter in 06/07, whilst Exeter City could break their transfer budget, which was set back in the 91/92 season with Shaun Taylor who cost them a princely £220 thousand.
Elsewhere on the list it’s all Championship squads, with Huddersfield Town, Fulham, Cardiff, Wigan, Leeds (twice) and Nottingham Forest all featuring. They’re amongst the most supported clubs in the league, but it’s Leeds who have the most to be confident, with two appearances on the list. The injection could be just what Leeds need, as they’ve been looking to bring in a winger to make up for the lack of width in the team at present. Leeds could run in to trouble if they do win though, because they’ve been locked out of the January transfer window as a part of the punishments laid out the Football League’s Financial Fair Play rules, which state that a club cannot lose more than £8m in a year. Leeds failed that test as a result of the previous administration, who reportedly ran the club poorly. It’s unknown what happens if Leeds win the pot, and whether the prize can be deferred to the next transfer window, which might send the Sky contact number alight with questions from eager Leeds fans.
Huddersfield Town will also be eager to land the transfer fund, having struggled at the start of the season from mismanagement and a chronic lack of strikers. The transfer fund could allow them to pick up an exciting Premiership youth prospect on loan and use the £250,000 to cover wage payments.
Whoever wins, it’s clear that the Sky Bet Transfer fund has been an immense success, though it’s as yet unclear whether Sky Bet’s new owners will continue to see the value in such a scheme.
Sky app released for the PS4
Sky has given Playstation 4 fans reason to rejoice today by releasing their official application for the PS4, just in time to get cosy with all those Christmas films. The move is a crucial one for Sky, whose business plan since the release of Sky Go and Now TV is to transition away from the dedicated satellite and box method of TV broadcast and open up their services to the maximum number of people possible. This, of course, means getting their applications on the highest number of devices possible, and that’s why we’re now seeing a PS4 version of the application. Confusingly though, this isn’t the same as the existing Now TV application for the Playstation 4.
At the moment, there’s a Now TV application for those who subscribe to the internet based service and a separate application for those who want to watch TV programmes from their existing subscription. Also of note is the fact that unlike Sky Go, the Sky application for the PS4 needs either a Sky Multiroom subscription or another £5 on your bill. Presumably this is to deter the high number of students who simply leave home and piggyback on their parents TV subscription by plugging a games console into the TV.
The download, which is around 60mb in size works just as you’d expect it to, though early reports claim that image quality maxes out at just 720p, not quite as much as we’d like from Sky, especially when you’re trying to get the most out of your expensive new PS4. Still, we’ll take what we can get and having Sky support those of us with Playtstation 4’s is icing on what was already a reasonably solid level of support from the British pay-TV giant.
The PS4 has been a runaway success since its release little over a year ago, having launched with a lower price than the Xbox One and slightly better graphics, the console stole the hearts of gamers up and down the country. Latest reports put PS4 sales at well over 10 million units sold around the planet, and following on from Black Friday and Cyber Monday (not to mention the forthcoming hectic Christmas season) we should see some pretty astronomical numbers being touted by Sony once the season is over and done with. That’s why it’s so crucial that Sky ensure that their services are made available on all the major consoles, because any device left untouched is a potential customer turned away.
When it comes to the Wii U or Xbox One, however, we’ve been left in the cold as to when (or if) the service will be arriving on them. Bringing the service to these devices is surely on Sky’s timetable but at present we’re unsure of when. We’ve reached out to Sky to confirm or deny their intentions, and will update this if we hear back from them. Until then though, PS4 owners have a lot to be happy about, just try to get some work done in between watching all those Christmas films. Download the application here.
Investors Fight Off Murdoch’s Re-election to Sky board
James Murdoch, the son of billionaire News Corp. owner Rupert Murdoch is facing a fightback from investors as he attempts to re-secure his place on the Sky board this month, having resigned in 2012 in the face of the phone-hacking scandal at the News of the World, which was under his management as head of News International.
Mr Murdoch appears to be trying to get a seat back at the table of the board now that the company has absorbed both Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia, both of which were majority owned by 21st Century Fox, a company that James Murdoch also has a role in. Clearly, this constitutes a conflict of interest for somebody wishing to join the board of directors at the company, but there are also unresolved questions regarding his leadership abilities, given the abhorrent actions that were undertaken whilst he managed News International.
It’s for that reason that the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, a long time critic of Mr Murdoch, recommend that its investors push back against his attempts to regain some control over the company and called for increased independent representation on the board amid fears its growing increasingly insular and unwilling to hear the views of the outside business community.
Investors have generally been negative about the takeover of both Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland, regarding it as a poor bit of business that smacks of desperation and points to a company who may begin to ignore the UK market in favour of the less competitive European markets. It comes at a bad time for Sky in general, when calls to its contact number line at 0844 324 0301 are up and customers are looking towards other TV providers like BT and Virgin Media in favour of the satellite TV giant, who don’t yet have a ‘quad play’ package to compete with Virgin Media.
Whether Mr Murdoch is invited back on to the board is still as yet undecided, but it’s clear that his preference would be to rejoin the company and lead it into a few era of profitability and cross-Europe cooperation. Whether that’s going to be possible or not is entirely up to investors, but given that his father still has a great deal of power of the company, both directly and indirectly, there’s a good chance that James already has his claws into the company somehow. Either way, we’ll keep you updated on the latest regarding his board position.
Moody’s Downgrades BSkyB
The credit rating company Moody’s has published its latest report on British pay-TV giant BSkyB, and it’s not looking positive as they downgrade their credit rating in anticipation of the merger between BSkyB, Sky Deutschland and Sky Italia.
The merger which is planned to be settled in the 12th of November will see BSkyB take 100% of Sky Italia stock and 87.4% of Sky Deutschland stock following an offering to the public. The move will give Sky the opportunity to create a cross Europe pay TV giant, capable of negotiating hard on deals and sharing infrastructure and management across the business. It’s a move which seems positive on the face of it, but has been met with opposition from banks and investors who have labeled the move as desperate.
Sky has been facing increased competition in the UK from the likes of Virgin Media, YouView (who were recently awarded a decision to force Sky to put their sports channels on the platform) and BT, who have been bidding Sky up on Premier League rights. Sky’s results haven’t been too bad though, with the company posting strong results due to an uptick in customers for their digital only services like Now TV and Sky Digital.
This clearly hasn’t been enough for Moody’s though, as they’ve downgraded BSkyB from Baa1 to Baa2 with a stable outlook, which is the second lowest investment grade it can offer. Moody’s released a statement saying “Moody’s decision to downgrade BSkyB’s ratings to Baa2 is mainly driven by the increased financial risk stemming from the significant incremental debt incurred to fund the acquisitions. BSkyB has issued GBP1.3 billion of new equity and has monetized certain assets to help fund the deal. But with a total purchase price expected to be around GBP7 billion, the company’s funded debt will more than double to over GBP7 billion compared to only GBP2.7 billion of reported gross debt at the end of fiscal year ending (FYE) 30 June 2014.”
Moody’s also added “The consolidation of SkyD and Sky Italia will benefit BSkyB by improving its scale and geographical diversification. However, SkyD and Sky Italia have lower margins than the core BSkyB operations and offer rather limited synergies driven by the fact that the companies operate as independent systems in distinct geographic markets, making it less likely that meaningful infrastructure savings can be achieved. In Moody’s view, BSkyB could be challenged to continually drive pay-TV penetration in Germany, despite increasingly positive trends in that country. In Italy, pay-TV competition remains intense, while ongoing macroeconomic weakness is putting pressure on Sky Italia’s performance.”
BSkyB Ordered to Put Sky Sports on BT
BSkyB have received a nasty surprise today as a UK court has ruled that they must make both Sky Sports 1 and Sky Sports 2 available for viewing on rival TV operator BT’s YouView service. The news comes after four years of hard fought litigation between Ofcom (the regulator) and BSkyB after Ofcom stated that Sky must obey the Wholesale Must Offer (WMO) rule on Sky.
Sky had been hoping the court would overturn the decision that Sky had to begin offering its channels to a wider number of services amid fears that its unique selling points were slowly being eroded from all sides. As the second of such decisions it follows that the final ruling, due in the not too distant future, will be unchanged, leaving Sky in the unenviable position of having to cause damage to itself.
BT, on the other hand, will likely be overjoyed with the decision, as will YouView customers across the country, finally able to watch Sky Sports without having to subscribe to either Sky or Virgin. The lack of Sky Sports on non-subscription services is what drew Ofcom to order Sky to allow people to subscribe via YouView.
Currently, only Virgin Media and Sky subscribers can access the paid sports package of Sky Sports, but those who have either Freeview of YouView have been left out in the cold, amid fears from Sky that by distributing their most valuable channels to any service which requests when would fundamentally destabilise their business plan of offering hardware and software together to keep customers locked in to their subscriptions. It’s this behaviour which Ofcom see as anti-competition and bad for consumers. Ed Richards, Ofcom’s chief executive said in a statement that “After more than four years of litigation and legal challenges, Ofcom’s 2010 pay TV decision continues to serve the interests of UK consumers and this ruling is consistent with our original decision. Today’s ruling paves the way for more top sports to be available on another TV service and supports competition and innovation in the communications sector as we originally intended.”.
Sky, on the other hand, stated “Today’s judgment is a purely interim measure with no impact on the ongoing legal process or the CAT’s previous dismissal of Ofcom’s core argument in favour of WMO. Ofcom itself is reviewing WMO in light of market developments and we continue to believe that this unwarranted obligation should be removed entirely.”
The Sky phone can be called whenever customers need to speak with the customer services department at Sky about anything to do with the service you receive.
Whether you are a keen sports fan, movie watcher, nature lover or simply and entertainment seeker Sky have a television package suited to your interests. Their range of television channels allow for their customer to watch, record, schedule and use live pause regardless of your tastes, interests or family situation. The Sky phone that we list here (0844 887 4777) will connect you straight through to the customer services department that will allow you to find the perfect package.
Sky are one of our biggest clients as we are aware of the need for their customers to track down the relevant telephone number and how difficult this can be if you go onto the official website: www.sky.com. A lot of assistance is offered on their website in order to try and divert some of the enquiries that come through to the customer services department another way.
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Sky Phone 0844 887 4777
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