| 11.5°C Dublin

Sky's fame for staying neutral now in question

For 21 years, Sky News has been regarded by left-leaning politicians as the most acceptable face in Rupert Murdoch's hydra-headed British media business.

Committed to the rules of impartiality which govern British news broadcasters, the network has been held up as a shining example that contradicts the theory that every outpost of the Murdoch empire is signed up to the Australian-born tycoon's personal agenda.

But the cracks are starting to show at Britain's original rolling news channel. The gripping news video on which it made its name is now as likely to be viewed on YouTube or Facebook and feature the hissy fitting of Sky's best-known presenters, rather than moments of historical importance.

Political editor Adam Boulton and news presenter Kay Burley have become stars of the internet and favourite targets for Sky's critics. Both have recently faced calls for their sacking and been the subject of mass complaints to the media industry watchdog Ofcom.

Monday afternoon's onscreen meltdown by Boulton, who engaged in a live on-air slanging match with Labour adviser Alastair Campbell, has become an online hit.

Though this has been highly entertaining, it has come at a delicate time for BSkyB, which is locked in a legal battle with Ofcom over the regulator's decision to order the satellite broadcaster to drastically cut the price that it charges rivals such as Virgin Media and BT for carrying Sky's sports coverage.


Tensions are running high, on and off the air. James Murdoch, chair of News Corp's Europe and Asia operations and non-executive chairman of BSkyB, recently stormed into the offices of The Independent to make an angry complaint over an election marketing campaign that accused his family's news organisations of having political affiliations.

Sky News may claim not to be in bed with anyone, but its esteemed political editor might be ready for a little lie down.