Sky to create 500 more jobs with €1bn investment
RUPERT Murdoch's Sky has announced plans to invest €1bn in the Irish economy in the next five years with cash earmarked for 500 new jobs by July as well as investment into its retail network.
Most critically for Irish business, a new broadband service will be introduced, which is set to increase competition in the domestic market.
The massive investment was announced by BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch, who travelled to Dublin for the opening of the network's new Irish operations centre. The facility at 1 Burlington Plaza, off Mespil Road, was officially opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny.
A total of 500 staff are employed at the centre with plans to recruit 500 more for Sky operations here by the end of June, said Mr Darroch.
The jobs will be in customer services, training and human resources roles.
New Sky broadband and home phone services already on offer in Britain are set to roll out here soon.
Comreg has already welcomed Sky's entry to the Irish market, stating that the company's presence will ratchet up competition in a broadband market dominated by Eircom and UPC and that the new arrival should exert a downward pressure on prices.
The regulator also hopes Sky will help Ireland move towards increased broadband speeds.
Slow speeds have commonly been cited as an impediment to business here with Irish broadband standing at just ninth fastest in Europe while household penetration of broadband, at 65pc, lags behind the European average by 3pc.
To date, Sky has invested €100m in Ireland and has opened 36 retail units.
The company would not say how many more are planned other than to reveal there would be an expansion in the areas of sales from shops, phone, online and door-to-door.
The company has annual revenues of over £6.8bn (€8.1bn) and reaches over 10.6 million homes across Ireland and the UK.
Its services are being used by more than two million people in Ireland each week. It has pioneered many types of television services including Sky+, Sky Go, HD and 3D.
"The launch of our new site in Dublin marks a very significant day for Sky's Irish business," said Mr Darroch.
"Ireland has been a great market for Sky. We've been here from the very start, growing to become the most popular provider of TV in the country," he added.
"Our increased commitment to Ireland will create new jobs and strengthen the Sky business.
"But most of all, it will be good for Irish customers, bringing them more choice and competition."
Mr Darroch added that the company would also be setting money aside for Irish-produced programming amid the company's planned spend of €700m per annum by 2014.