First-ever Sky News Australia broadcast

February 19, 2019

On the Monday evening of 19 February 1996, Sky News Australia – Australia's first 24/7 news channel – began broadcasting in Australia with up-to-the-minute news, current affairs, key press conferences and breaking events.

Over the channel’s subsequent decades, Sky News Australia has broken countless stories and been at the coal-face of breaking news during the revolving door of leadership changes in the Labor, Liberal, National and Greens parties. Sky has also branched into greater political commentary and analysis, exemplified by its current “after dark” line up, including Andrew Bolt, Rowan Dean (Outsiders), Peta Credlin, Alan Jones, Chris Kenny and the man Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi refers to as a 'future Gold Logie winner', Paul Murray.

This line up of mature, hard-headed commentators bring a more reasoned and common sense approach to the stories and responses of the day, dialling down the haste and emotion often ginned up by social media and the 24-hour news cycle.

Celebrate the anniversary of channel Sky News Australia going to air by:

  • watching this clip of the new channel’s historic opening (also embedded below)
  • reading further about the history of the channel
  • tuning in to the channel, especially “after dark”, via your Foxtel box/subscription (Channel 600), a downloaded FoxtelGo app on one of your devices or through the free-to-air WIN network (generally Channel 83 in regional Australia, or Channel 53 in Northern NSW)
  • viewing these clips of Senator Bernardi on Sky News Australia discussing the topics and policies that real Australians are concerned about
  • apprising yourself of the Conservative Party’s policies , particularly around the ABC and national broadcasting and/or
  • sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, conservatives and those that want a freer, saner, more reasoned and less emotional public discourse going forward.

Further details on Sky News Australia

Since inception, Sky News Australia has been a cable and satellite (subscription-based) news channel, broadcasting through the FoxTel platform – a joint venture between News Corp Australia and Telstra, established in October 1995. It currently has several other news/information channels (besides its Channel 600 on the FoxTel set-top box), including its business, sport and weather channels.

  • Sky News Australia’s recent deal with the WIN (regional TV) Network – giving rise to “Sky News on WIN” from 2 September 2018 (Channel 83 generally, or Channel 53 in Northern NSW) – has given the 24/7 news channel its first significant free-to-air exposure (and an extra, potential audience reach of over eight million viewers).

The parent company of Sky News Australia channel has always been Australia News Channel. Originally, this parent was jointly owned by British Sky Broadcasting, Seven Media Group and Nine Entertainment Co (one third each) but since December 2016, it has been wholly owned by News Corp Australia.

The channel’s first on-air show included news presenters, John Gatfield, Juanita Phillips (both pictured) and Katrina Lee.

Imitation, flattery and unnecessary state-backed competition

On 22 July 2010, “their ABC” – equipped with its near-bottomless pit of taxpayer funds – introduced a 24/7 free-to-air news and political commentary channel to rival the subscription-based Sky News Australia, but from the ABC’s usual, charter-defying, Green-Left perspective.

Moreover, this left-wing imitation – called ABC News 24 – constituted yet another unnecessary foray by our public broadcasting behemoth into an already well-serviced segment of the Australian media market, as per the ABC’s many online content expansions over this century.

By providing a new “free service” that competes directly with another that must charge just to survive, it was also a further breach of the commercial principle of competitive neutrality – as any “pub test” or application of common sense would conclude.

Labor's malign for Sky

In 2011, then Communications Minister Conroy and the Gillard Labor government controversially blocked Sky News Australia’s $223 million winning bid – in a competitive tender process – to acquire the then 'Australia Network' from the ABC. This Asia-Pacific channel was a soft diplomacy tool to broadcast Australian content (eg news, drama, sport and other programs, including English teaching) to our regional neighbours. 

In 2018 and with a Victorian state election looming, Victoria's Labor government removed Sky News broadcasts from Melbourne train stations on the basis that a controversial interview had been shown on the train station screens when - in fact - that had never occurred.

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