Media Lifeline: Sky News

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 21 May 2010 12:00AM

From winning an Emmy in 2006 to its slide towards Fox News-style political partiality.

February 1989: When Rupert Murdoch, in a 1989 Bafta speech, revealed that his soon-to-launch Sky TV would include a news channel, there was scepticism. But within months of its launch, Sky News had become required viewing for the chattering classes.

August 1994: Within BSkyB, Sky News has been regarded as profitable from 1992 onwards - but its news philosophy was not yet set in stone. There had been clashes between the BSkyB managing director, Kelvin MacKenzie, and the chief executive, Sam Chisholm. Tabloid values seemed to be winning out with the channel's blanket coverage of the OJ Simpson freeway chase in June 1994 - but MacKenzie leaves two months later.

July 2004: Sky News management was more than aware of the increasing notoriety being won by Fox News in the US. Fox News had launched in 1996 - and a campaign of liberal-left vilification began to acquire real momentum with the 2003 publication of a book, Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken, and the 2004 release of a documentary, directed by Robert Greenwald, entitled Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War On Journalism.

August 2006: With its lead anchorman, Jeremy Thompson, becoming increasingly recognised as one of the best news broadcasters of his generation, the channel regularly wins plaudits (and awards) not just in the UK but internationally too. One highlight comes in the 2006 Emmy Awards, where Sky News scoops a gong for its coverage of the 7/7 London bombings.

May 2010: Ofcom receives complaints when Sky News' political editor, Adam Boulton, clashes on screen with the ex-Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell. This follows accusations that Boulton had treated Nick Clegg unfairly during Sky's leadership debate.

Fast forward ...

November 2010: During the year's second General Election in October, Sky News defies Ofcom warnings that it had shown too aggressive an attitude towards Liberal Democrat policies and candidates. It had clearly been confident that an incoming Conservative administration would come to its aid - but Prime Minster William Hague takes an "I know thee not" stance, giving the go-ahead for Ofcom to levy a steep fine.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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