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John Ryley, Head of Sky News, has been awarded with the Individual Achievement Award at this year’s Broadcast Digital Awards for his instrumental role in bringing about the televised Leaders’ Debates, described as ‘a defining moment in recent British broadcasting history’.

The accolade is awarded to an individual considered to have made an outstanding contribution to the development of digital media, and the judges praised John Ryley for launching an online campaign calling for the televised debates.

Conor Dignam, Group editor for Broadcast, Screen and Shots, said of John Ryley:

“As the editor of one of the most powerful news brands in the market, this year’s winner launched an online campaign calling for a televised debate that attracted thousands of signatures. He wrote personally to every party leader – and published their replies. He lobbied, he cajoled, he used the power of his channel and brand and he twisted arms – to make it happen. Even his broadcasting rivals concede that without his passion and commitment to make this happen, there may have been no live debates. It is these attributes and strengths that helped create broadcasting history this year.”

John Ryley, Head of Sky News said: The award is for everyone at Sky who contributed to the success of the Leaders’ Debate and the launch of HD. Never accept the status quo.”

 

Sky has announced plans to develop its successful Sky Sports News channel through increased editorial investment and the launch of Europe’s first high definition sports news service.

The increase in investment will build on the existing success of Sky Sports News, which pioneered the concept of a dedicated sports news channel in the UK and is watched in millions of homes every week.

The changes are designed to bring customers even richer and broader coverage of sports news, as well as faster reaction to breaking stories wherever they happen. The editorial enhancements will bring benefits for viewers of the existing standard definition channel as well as Sky Sports News HD, which will become the fifth HD channel in the Sky Sports stable when it goes live later this year.

Further details about the HD channel and other enhancements will be announced in the weeks ahead.

The investment plans will be supported by a move later this year for Sky Sports News to become exclusively a pay-TV channel, allowing it to benefit from continued growth in subscription revenues.  From that point, Sky Sports News will be available to Sky, Virgin Media and Talk Talk TV customers, as well as online and on mobile. Sky Sports News will be replaced on Freeview by Sky3+1, a time-shifted version of the existing Freeview channel, Sky3.

Barney Francis, Managing Director of Sky Sports, said: “Sky Sports News has been a great success over the last 12 years and we have big ambitions to make it even better. As part of a subscription service, customers can look forward to expanded coverage and the launch of Europe’s first HD sports news service.”

 

Sky News Decision Time will challenge the traditional election night format as it launches in HD at 9pm on Thursday May 6th.

Sky News’ groundbreaking election night coverage kicks off with Sky’s top presenters reporting live from the field in picture-sharp HD. Kay Burley will be tracking Gordon Brown, Jeremy Thompson will be tracking David Cameron and Anna Botting will be tracking Nick Clegg in the leaders’ respective constituencies of Kirkcaldy, Witney, and Sheffield Hallam. On Friday, Eamonn Holmes and Dermot Murnaghan take over as the counts finish and the story gravitates towards Westminster. An election this close is made for a 24-hour news channel, and Sky News will stay with the action until the result is clear.

Sky News will have more reporters and presenters at more counts than ever before. Their sole job is to make sure that every news-line, every result, every story and every picture gets to Sky News TV, www.skynews.com and commercial radio clients first. Sky News presenters and correspondents will be blogging, tweeting and filing their stories and tips across all Sky News platforms.

Back in the Sky News Centre in West London, Sky’s Political Editor Adam Boulton will be crunching the results, conducting the major interviews, and will be joined by a variety of experts and pundits debating the key issues and discussing how the night is playing out.

John Ryley, Head of Sky News said: “On election night, Sky News will offer live coverage in HD to bring you all the results, excitement and reactions in our special programme Decision Time. The outcome will be determined in the constituencies and that’s where we’ll be. Sharp HD pictures and even sharper journalism will keep us out in front.”

Information-rich onscreen HD graphics, delivered with high energy and impact, will show results as they happen, simultaneously updating the count, the state of the parties and giving viewers more updated live information than in any previous election. In the studio, Sky News will use its distinctive News Wall to tell the story of the night in terms of the Sky 100 (the 100 seats identified by Sky News as being the most crucial in this election), the parliamentary projections and the key personalities.

At 10pm Sky News will deliver the results of its major exit poll – for the first time a joint venture with ITV News and the BBC. Sky News will get the result only 10 minutes before its release, and Executive Producer of Decision Time, John McAndrew has vowed not to tell Adam Boulton in advance, because Adam wants to be surprised.

John McAndrew said: “It’s likely to be close – so every result, every major speech, every interview, every breaking line will count. Once we’re under way, there’s no plan, no running order and no ‘off-air’ time.”

Sky News today announced that it will launch in High Definition on Thursday 6th May at 9.00pm to coincide with the channel’s election night show Decision Time. Sky News HD will be broadcast on Sky channel 517 and will be simulcast alongside Sky News’ existing Standard Definition channel 501.

As part of a premium service, the new High Definition channel unites first-class journalism with sharp picture quality and uses a widescreen format to show more detail about the key stories of the day, bringing HD customers closer to the news. The new channel is supported by an updated HD studio and HD resources in the field, while HD graphics create a striking on air look to deliver a clear, crisp and compelling new television experience.

John Ryley, Head of Sky News said: “We’ve made the news ourselves in 2010 by launching the first UK news service in HD with sharper pictures and enhanced services for HD viewers. It’s an innovation which clearly defines Sky’s strengths, our passion and our restless pursuit to be first and to be the best. The detail of Sky News HD is stunning – I hope our viewers will enjoy the new experience.”

From Monday 10th May 2010, viewers will benefit from a new and innovative way of story telling – HD Premium Panels – providing contextual detail about the key stories of the day. Content will include live video feeds from developing stories, rich graphics that enhance Sky News coverage and real-time text analysis from Sky News specialist correspondents during live speeches and events.

The launch of Sky News HD responds to increasing customer demand for high quality programming with the intensity and vividness of HD, and follows the channel’s successful HD broadcast last week of The Sky News Debate with Gordon Brown, David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

With the launch of Sky News HD, all Sky channel brands are now available in HD, with 40 HD channels spanning all genres. As of 31st December 2009, 2.1 million customers had signed up to receive Sky’s HD pack of channels. 

The results of a daily YouGov opinion poll for Sky News show that from a low of 24% at the end of last week, voter intentions in support of Labour have increased dramatically to 30%. Conservative support over that period has fluctuated between 40% and 37%, with today’s voter intention level at 37%, and support for the Lib Dems in that period has gone from a high of 21%, down to a low of 18% and back up to 21% again today.

The results are being delivered as part of a daily YouGov opinion polls of 1000 adult Sky News viewers. The survey is based on a fresh sample of 1000 adults online carried out every weekday throughout Great Britain all this week and next week.

The daily polls will allow viewers, as well as Sky News’ political team, to analyse the effects that different announcements and speeches during both the Labour and Conservative party conferences are having on voter opinion.

The daily online YouGov polls will measure fluctuations in voting intentions across the two weeks, as well as asking respondents to register their opinion on different topical questions coming out of the conferences each day. The results can be seen at www.yougov.co.uk/today

Sky News has today announced that it has signed a contract with tapeless technology specialist EVS to provide a server solution for its launch of Sky News HD in Spring 2010.

Sky News and EVS will now work together to introduce the new technology at Sky News West London headquarters, with HD upgrades at its Central London studio, the regions and internationally.

Replacing current equipment and introducing a single solution through EVS, with Apple’s Final Cut Studio as the craft edit solution will lead to significant enhancement across Sky News, including improving its day-to-day newsgathering operation and output abilities on TV, as well as online and radio.

The benefits of the new solution operating across ingest, edit and playout include being able to get Sky’s news output onto multiple platforms quicker and improved integration between Sky News’ bureaux and field teams and its headquarters at Osterley, West London. The use of EVS Instant Tapeless Technology, including the XS and XT[2] production servers, XStore[2] SAN server, IPDirector, as well as XEDIO, with Final Cut studio across the board means teams back at HQ will be capable of last minute tweaks to any news package sent in, whether it has come from London, Liverpool or Lahore – something not currently possible under the existing arrangements.

The contract with EVS was signed after a thorough review of all potential suppliers was carried out when Sky News began to look ahead to its HD channel launch and the new demands that this would place on its systems and staff. The review process included technical demonstrations to Sky News staff as well as face-to-face engagement with the short-listed companies and a technical scoring system to determine how far the different products on offer would meet the needs of Sky News as it entered a new era of broadcasting. 

Bevan Gibson, Deputy Head of Technology for Sky News, said: “The EVS product is always in record, and this feature combined with ultra fast turnaround, will bring a new dimension to the way we can handle breaking news. An architecture that is flexible for News, allowing us to adapt quickly to changes in news contribution and distribution practices.

“EVS have a progressive and pioneering outlook which matches our ethos. They are a partner who will work with us in shaping products to suit our needs and we are delighted to announce that we will be working with them at this exciting time for the channel.”

Sky News will now work to introduce the EVS solutions across its operation by Spring next year and will embark upon a thorough training system with all affected staff to ensure a smooth changeover next year.

Henry Alexander, General Manager EMEA at EVS: “EVS is extremely proud to be working in partnership with Sky News on this challenging studio project. The combination of our expertise in the design and manufacturing of fast and reliable broadcast technology with the quality of Sky’s leading programmes provides an exciting opportunity to deliver and launch a technically advanced HD News Channel in 2010.”

Harry Moseley, aged 9, from Sheldon, Birmingham has been named ‘Britain’s Kindest Kid’ after scooping the top award in the annual competition run by the Charities Aid Foundation and Five News. Harry has won £1,000 pocket money and a further £1,000 in Charities Aid Foundation vouchers to give to charities of his choice. A Five News crew visited him at his school to present him with his award this morning. The footage will be shown on Five News with Natasha Kaplinsky at 5pm and again on Live from Studio Five (6.30 – 7.30 pm on Five) this evening.

Viewers of Five News and Live From Studio Five voted Harry Britain’s Kindest Kid after watching his story, along with the stories of the four other finalists, on both shows last week.

Harry lives with an inoperable brain tumour, but this hasn’t stopped him fundraising by making beaded bracelets and selling them for Brain Tumour UK.  His bracelets are for sale in 30 different shops across the Midlands and he has so far raised nearly £15,000. Harry has also launched a schools initiative which involves giving his own power-point presentation to primary school pupils and encouraging them to set up bracelet making clubs.  Under the scheme, 15p from every bracelet sold goes to their school fund and the rest goes to Brain Tumour UK.  Harry started fundraising for a 55 year old friend in the hospital bed next to him who suffered from the same condition as Harry.

When presented with his award, Harry was “speechless” and “gobsmacked”.  With his prize money he plans to give £200 each to his brother and sister and will spend the rest on a wooden playhouse for the garden where he can make beads.  He will dedicate his prize to his friend Robert Harley who died with a brain tumour recently.  He will be donating his Charities Aid Foundation vouchers to Brain Tumour UK.

His sister Danielle said: “You are supposed to pick on your kid brother but you can’t when he is Britain’s kindest kid.” His mother Georgina said: “I am so proud of him.  I can’t believe that is my baby.  I never dreamt of him winning.

Last Wednesday Harry and the other finalists met the Prime Minister and Sarah Brown at Number Ten Downing Street along with Five News presenter, Natasha Kaplinsky and host of Live From Studio Five, Melinda Messenger. 

Speaking about Harry’s win, Natasha Kaplinsky, presenter of Five News, said: “Every single finalist and entrant in the competition should be congratulated for the good they are doing and the difference they are making to the lives of others. Harry is an inspiration – continuing to think of others and to raise money while battling his own illness shows an incredible amount of bravery and compassion, especially in someone so young, and we were delighted to name him Britain’s Kindest Kid.”

Melinda Messenger, presenter of Live From Studio Five, said: “I feel very privileged to have met such an astonishing group of children and think they all deserve a huge amount of recognition for the work they are doing while facing their own struggles. I’m looking forward to hearing about what Harry treats himself to with his pocket money and wholeheartedly congratulate him on his win.”

John Low, Chief Executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “This year the competition to win ‘Britain’s Kindest Kid’ has been tougher than ever, there are so many kids out there selflessly doing fantastic things.  Harry is a really deserving winner and I hope that his story will inspire many more kids around Britain to do more to support charities and help others.”

From today Sky News has begun streaming its TV output live, free and 24 hours a day, on its website www.skynews.com

And on the same day, skynews.com has also unveiled a new video player on the site that will further enhance its video content, delivering faster, crisper and more prominent footage on those stories that contain videos.

Sky News’ online team has been working with Sky Player to develop a login – free version of the online TV platform. Visitors to the site will now be welcomed by an enhanced home page offering the existing menu of the latest breaking news stories, blogs, and weather – plus a tab on the main story carousel offering Sky News, live and as it appears on TV, 24 hours a day.

There is no log in and it is not necessary for visitors to have a Sky account – just one click and anyone on the site can watch Sky News TV live from the home page, wherever they are in the UK or ROI without the need to be near a TV set.

The additional introduction of an enhanced video player to skynews.com will give visitors a richer and more immediate video experience on the site. The top video on a story now appears at the top of the page instead of a still picture at the top of the page.

The higher bit-rate player was developed by Sky News’ in-house development team. It includes suggestions of related video in-stream as you watch, and offers more clips to view at the end of each play.

Julian March, Senior Executive Producer for Sky News online said: “The enhancements we have launched today on skynews.com reinforce our total commitment to video on the site. Breaking news in video is right at the top of our offering. We’re delighted to showcase the great quality of Sky Player, and to give non-Sky customers access to just one of the many channels available to subscribers.”

“With Sky News now available on more platforms than ever – on TV, online, on mobiles, through iphone and ipod touch apps, at train stations and on planes – there’s barely a screen in Britain where you can’t access Sky News.”

Griff Parry, Director of OnDemand for Sky, said: “I am delighted that Sky Player is working with Sky News to deliver their TV channel on skynews.com This launch is another example of the core business using the Sky Player platform to offer new and innovative ways to access great Sky content.”

The Conservatives’ lead over Labour has dropped from 14 points to nine on the day David Cameron addresses the party conference.

Yesterday’s “Osborne bounce” appears to be wiped out in the Sky News/YouGov daily voting intentions poll which puts the Conservatives on 40%, down three points on yesterday.

Labour are up two points on 31% and the Lib Dems are up too, from 17% to 18%.

The Conservative leader has defended the party’s strategy of telling voters to expect a period of austerity under a Conservative government, but 41% of people still think the party is not being honest with the public about the economic measures they will take.

Nearly half (49%) said they thought the main priority of a Conservative government would be to protect the interests of the rich as opposed to 34% who said they would protect those on average incomes.

And 60% of those asked said they did not believe Mr Cameron understood “the problems normal people face in their everyday lives”.

YouGov interviewed 1,074 people between 7th and 8th October.

Each day, Sky News will be delivering daily YouGov opinion polls to its viewers, based on a fresh sample of over 1000 adults online carried out every weekday throughout Great Britain all this week.

The daily polls will allow viewers, as well as Sky News’ political team, to analyse the effects that different announcements and speeches during both the Labour and Conservative party conferences are having on voter opinion.

The daily online YouGov polls will measure fluctuations in voting intentions across the two weeks, as well as asking respondents to register their opinion on different topical questions coming out of the conferences each day.

As the Conservative Party Conference continues in Manchester, 43% of people say they would vote Conservative if there was a General Election tomorrow, up two points. Labour have also increased their share, nudging up a point to 29% but the Liberal Democrats have dropped by the same amount to 17%.

But while the Conservatives’ chances of forming the next Government remain strong, the public are less supportive of their shadow chancellor.

Asked who would make the better Chancellor if the Party won the election, 21% picked George Osborne on the day of his keynote speech to delegates. In contrast, 28% prefer shadow business secretary Kenneth Clarke, who held the post from 1993 to 1997 under John Major.

More than half – 51% – said they do not know who would be best in the Treasury.

The Sky News/YouGov poll also shows ambivalence over one of Mr Osborne’s main proposals – increasing the retirement age to 66 in 2016.

Voters are divided, with 44% supporting the move and the same proportion opposing it.

A freeze on public sector pay wins more support as 63% back the plan, compared to 23% who disagree.

YouGov asked 1,039 British adults on October 6th and 7th.

Each day, Sky News will be delivering daily YouGov opinion polls to its viewers, based on a fresh sample of over 1000 adults online carried out every weekday throughout Great Britain all this week.

The daily polls will allow viewers, as well as Sky News’ political team, to analyse the effects that different announcements and speeches during both the Labour and Conservative party conferences are having on voter opinion.

The daily online YouGov polls will measure fluctuations in voting intentions across the two weeks, as well as asking respondents to register their opinion on different topical questions coming out of the conferences each day.

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