1998 January 25
A sat-uk mailing list message suggests that Astra 1D may be moving to 28.2°E:
Due to the launch delay of the Proton rocket, following the immediately
previous failed launch where both rocket and satellite were destroyed,
Astra 2A will not be launched in January as expected. This was reported
some time ago. However, Astra still have to find a replacement for the
satellite which was to carry Sky’s complete digital service. According
to many rumours, some of which have leaked out of SES itself, Astra 1D
will be moved to 28.2° east, and it’s transponder frequencies changed to
between 11,700 and 12,100 GHz for the Sky package. Current channels on
Astra 1D would continue on the 1E, 1F and 1G satellites until 1D can be
returned to 19.2° east; the frequencies would not change, so noone would
notice any difference, except maybe in footprint coverage on the outer
edges. This kind of manoeuvre has never been attempted by SES before, as
they have never had any major problems until now. Astra 2A is scheduled
to launch in mid-March, and Sky hopes to have its digital platform ready
by March 1st.
1998 February 12
SES announces that the Astra 1D satellite, currently providing Sky’s analogue services, would be moving from its current location at 19.2°E to 28.2°E with an estimate duration of three weeks. This satellite would be used for digital transmissions throughout the year.
1998 February 19
Astra 1D begins relocation and is recorded as being located at 20.5°E by members of SATCODX.
1998 March 14
A sat-uk mailing list message notes potential concerns regarding the positioning of Astra 1D potentially conflicting with that of a Eutelsat satellite:
British Sky Broadcasting and its June digital launch could face anotherhttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00271.html
problem: A dispute between two satellite companies that may hinder
start-up of the service. The Financial Times reported that Europe’s
Eutelsat and SES were both set to begin broadcasts from adjacent orbits
in space, using the same frequency band. That could interfere with
BSkyB’s digital channels, due to be uplinked to an Astra satellite owned
by SES, the paper said. BSkyB’s planned 200-channel digital satellite TV
service has seen other delays, and was initially scheduled for launch
1998 March 15
The SATCODX mailing list records test carrier transmissions from Astra 1D during final movements to its destination, between 26.5°E and 28.2°E. Video transmissions were expected to begin on the 16th of March.
DigitalSpy user jimbo states that video transmissions began on the 15th of March, comprising a Castle Video (effectively the BBC’s) mux at 11.719H and another at 11.979H via Astra 1D.
1998 March 18
DigitalSpy user jimbo, in the same post as that describing events several days prior to the 18th of March, states that Sky test transmissions began on this day, comprising 5 channels airing Sky News with “DIGITAL TEST TRANSMISSION” marked on them, and 5 channels showing test cards, or colour bars, and referred to as “Sky Box Office (type 05)”. These channels were present on two muxes, at 11.914H and 11.934V via Astra 1D.
1998 March 22
The SATCODX mailing list reports that Astra Vision 2, a digital promotional and satellite launch feed channel, is live on 11.817V. Additionally it mentions similar information to that provided by jimbo; BBC transmissions testing on 11.798H with 3/4 FEC, Sky on 11.914H and 11.934V with 2/3 FEC, and all muxes operating with a symbol rate of 27500, via Astra 1D.
1998 April 6
A sat-uk mailing list message notes (with some uncertainty about the source of the information) that Sky have not yet delivered the EPG software to the set top box manufacturers:
BSkyB may well be dealt another set-back in its plans to launch its newhttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00290.html
interactive digital service, BIB. According to reports, Sky have still
not delivered the EPG (Electronic Programme Guide) to the makers of the
set-top boxes. The manufacturers, such as Pace, now have to make a
decision as to whether they should suspend manufacture or enable the EPG
to be downloaded via flash later down the production line.
1998 April 19
The SATCODX mailing list reports additional Sky Digital transponders being activated, this time at 11.758H, 11.778V, 11.837H, and 11.856V, all via Astra 1D and using Sky’s typical configuration of a 27500 symbol rate and 2/3 FEC.
This information was also reported several days before by the sat-uk mailing list, additionally adding that the behaviour of the channels may indicate testing of the EPG.
They seem to be testing the EPG – Electronic Programme Guide,
as Sky Sports 2, Sky Movies Screen 1/2 and Sky One are all shown in the
information display with their respective programmes (although the
transmissions themselves consist of only Sky News and test cards).
1998 May 14
SATCODX satellite multiplex listings for Astra 1D now contain significantly more Sky Digital tests:
11.720H BBC test card (MPEG2, clear)https://web.archive.org/web/19980515230747/http://satcodx.com:80/astra1d.shtml
11.758H Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
11.778V Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
11.817V Astra Vision 2 (MPEG2, clear)
11.837H Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard encrypted)
11.856V Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard encrypted)
11.876H Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
11.895V Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
11.914H Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
11.934V Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
12.032H Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
12.051V Sky Digital tests (MPEG2, VideoGuard)
Further information is provided by the sat-uk mailing list:
12.032 H SR 27500 FEC 2/3 MPEG-2/Videoguard BSkyB
SBO Barker A (Sky test card)
SBO Barker B (Sky test card)
SBO 46 (Sky News)
SBO 47 (Sky News)
SBO 48 (Sky test card)
12.051 V SR 27500 FEC 2/3 MPEG-2/Videoguard BSkyBhttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00309.html
227 (Sky News)
238 (Sky News)
501 (Sky test card)
11.720 H SR 27500 FEC 2/3 MPEG-2/Videoguard BBChttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00310.html
BBC 1 (BBC One)
BBC 2 (BBC Two)
BBC NEWS 24 (BBC News 24)
BBC 1 NI (BBC One Northern Ireland)
BBC PREVIEW (BBC Preview Channel)
BBC INTERACTIVE (BBC Widescreen [tc])
Sky Digital is now occupying twelve transponders on Astra 1D, with thehttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00311.html
Sky test card in PAL taking up another. Sky’s contract with Astra allows
them fourteen transponders. The only one remaining to be activated for
Sky is transponder 16, 12.012 V. Today, Sky are conducting tests on four
new transponders. There is no television – no encrypted TV signal in
fact, but the EPG and data streams for the interactive and NVOD services
seem to be being tested. Here are the new frequencies now being used by
11.798 H SR 27500 FEC 2/3 MPEG-2/Videoguard BBChttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00312.html
Widescreen [test card] CLEAR
CF CTA SD1 [colour bars] CLEAR
[colour bars/test card] CLEAR
Widescreen [test card] & BBC 1 Sound CLEAR
1998 May 15
Sky Digibox plans announced at Cable & Satellite Exhibition on Monday 15 May.
1998 June 7
More channel names are observed appearing on the Sky Digital transponders, noted here by the sat-uk mailing list:
11.758 H: The Box (currently on Astra 1A with G. Plus and Men/Motors)http://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00324.html
11.778 V: 50 Music Choice Europe channels (most now operative!!!)
11.837 H: Sky Box Office (5 channels), Sky Movies Screen 1 & 2, Sky One,
Sky Sports 1
11.856 V: National Geographic, Sky Box Office (5 channels), Sky Sports
2, Sky Novies Screen 1A & 2A (NVOD channels)
11.876 H: Sky News, Sky Movies Gold
11.895 V: Sci-Fi Channel, Sky Movies Gold A (NVOD), Nickelodeon,
11.914 H: Sky Box Office (5 channels), Sky Sports 3, Sky Novies Screen
1B & 2B
11.954 H: Granada Plus, Bloomberg, Men / Motors
11.973 V: Sky Soap, Tara, Fox Kids
12.032 H: History Channel. [.tv], Good Life, The Racing Channel
12.051 V: Previews 1 & 2, MTV, VH-1
1998 June 10
MediaTel publishes a logo which it claims is to be Sky Digital’s new branding.
This logo was never used for on-screen or corporate branding, and whether it was ever expected to be is unclear. A variant did appear briefly during Sky News coverage of Sky Digital’s upcoming launch aired on 30th of August 1998 however, so it is likely true that it was a logo that Sky considered using at some point.
In fact, the dish (or, as it is affectionately known in some circles, the “egg”) motif would soon be discarded entirely as Sky would opt for a more simplistic brand in the coming months.
1998 June 21
More channel names are added to transponders and Sky Digital soft-launches to existing Sky customers.
It’s interesting to see that a few more channels have been added to the EPG. Thesehttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00329.html
include Sky Screen 1C, Sky Screen 2B, PPV Event, Sky Travel, Discovery and Animal Planet. Good Life
has been changed to Breeze, and The Box seems to be a 24-hour channel – great!
As two presenters ran through their hourly rap, accompanied by a huge video wall of Sky Digital promotional tape, branded support staff handed out leaflets trumpeting “Britain’s first and best digital TV service.” Never mind that the June launch date is only a very limited one, targeting current Sky satellite dish subscribers. This is positioning.http://www.katebulkley.com/digitalnoise.html
ON JUNE 21st, almost ten years to the day after it signed its first lease on an Astra satellite, BSkyB—on some measures, the world’s most profitable pay-TV operator—is leading Britain’s headlong rush into digital television. The company describes it as a “soft launch”: only next month will it start peddling digital set-top boxes to existing customers.https://www.economist.com/business/1998/06/18/skys-new-dawn
1998 June 26
Marketing for Sky Digital appears to have begun in earnest:
Sky have started making a fuss of Sky Digital now, having reported onhttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00330.html
it numerous times on Sky News; they have recently put an article
concerning the new packages in July’s Sky TV Guide. More details will be
announced in the August guide. Does this mean an August start date? When
I phoned up the Sky Digital inquiries line, they told me they could send
me an information pack which would arrive before the end of July. It
looks like an August 1st start date for Sky Digital.
1998 June 28
The SATCODX mailing list notes that Sky Box Office channels 1 to 48 have appeared on Astra 1D.
1998 July 1
Flextech, reported via the sat-uk mailing list, announce a deal with BSkyB to carry channels on digital satellite:
Flextech’s wholly-owned channels, Bravo,http://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00331.html
Challenge TV, Living and Trouble, all of which are part of the Sky
Multi-Channels Package in analogue, will launch on Sky digital satellite
from 1 August 1998.
The BBC/Flextech joint venture, UKTV, has secured digital satellite
carriage for existing channels UK Gold, UK Horizons, UK Arena and UK
Style and additionally for a music entertainment service which will
launch in the next twelve months. It is intended that UK Gold, which is
part of Sky’s current analogue package, will be enhanced with an
additional service, UK Gold 2, which will launch in the Autumn.
1998 July 17
Campaign Live reports that Tequila London have been appointed to handle the trade launch of the new digital Sky service.
1998 July 31
The Flextech channels begin to appear on Sky Digital:
As Sky further gears up to its September launch, more channels arehttp://satnet.clust1.tbs-internet.net/listserver/sat-uk/msg00336.html
joining the group on Astra 1D. AstraVision has left 11.817 V, having
been replaced by the expected UK TV package. Included in this package
are UK Gold, UK Horizons, UK Arena and the UK TV Preview Channel, which
is showing just UK Style. There are two more free spaces on this
channels which will probably be used for UK TV’s two new channels: UK
Gold 2 (more of the same) and UK FM (a new music channel). At present,
all four channels are in the clear, so non-cable viewers, get yer dishes
In addition, Flextech have finally taken up their transponder on 11.740
V. There are currently four channels from Flextech here: Living,
Challenge TV, Trouble and Bravo.
The SATCODX mailing list notes the same several days later:
11.740V: Living, Trouble, Bravo UK, Challenge TVhttp://www.sat-net.com/listserver/satcodx/msg00123.html
11.817V: UK Style, UK Horizons, UK Gold, UK Arena
More channels are also expected to join:
More channels which are set to join the digital revolution at 28.2°E
include, from Sky, Sky Sports News – a 24-hour dedicated sports news
channel – and Manchester United Television (you’ll forgive me if I don’t
cheer – where’s AVTV?!). Other coming channels include the new “God
Network”, which will include a multiplex of up to eight Christian
channels, including our favourite CCE, as well as the Christian
Children’s Channel, the Christian Shopping Channel and the Christian
1998 August 9
The SATCODX mailing list notes that the following channels have been added on Astra 1D:
12.032H: Granada Breeze, The History Channel, The Racing Channel, and .TVhttp://www.sat-net.com/listserver/satcodx/msg00123.html
1998 September 10
DesignWeek reveals that Carnegie Orr has created a new corporate brand for Sky prior to the launch of the new Sky Digital service, noting that “They want to leave the old Sky behind”.
Simultaneously it was announced that Sky’s movie channels were also to be rebranded on the same day, using designs from Pittard Sullivan, after a review of the existing branding the previous December.
These rebranded channels were previously known as Sky Movies Screen 1, Sky Movies Screen 2, and Sky Movies Gold respectively.
1998 October 1
Sky Digital officially launches and becomes available to customers not already subscribed to Sky services.