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British Sky Broadcasting

British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB - formerly Sky Television) is a direct broadcast satellite (DBS) service operating in the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was launched in February 1989 and was one of the first DBS services in the world to become operational. Sky TV originated as a four-channel service on the Astra satellite at 19.2° east.

The Astra satellite was owned by a Luxembourg-based consortium and controlled from there, but Sky's broadcasts originated in the UK and were subject to British regulation, originally by the Cable Authority and later by the Independent Television Commission.

The failure of rival company British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) in November 1990 led to a merger, although some of Sky's detractors saw it as a takeover. The new company was called British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). The merger may have saved Sky financially. Despite its popularity, Sky had very few major advertisers to begin with, and was also beginning to suffer from embarrassing breakdowns. Acquiring BSB's advertising contracts and equipment solved these problems at a stroke.

With the launch of more Astra satellites from 1991 onward BSkyB was able to begin expanding its services (the Astra satellites were all orbitally co-located so that they could be received using the same dish), and the launch of the first Astra 2 series satellite at a new orbital position, 28.2° east, in 1997, enabled the company to launch a new all-digital service, Sky Digital, with the potential to carry hundreds of television and radio channels. Once again Sky faced competition, this time from ONdigital (later renamed ITV Digital), and once more saw off its rivals partly thanks to aggressive marketing and partly because of its rivals' technical and financial failures.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which was originally the sole owner of Sky Television, currently has a 38% stake in the company.


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