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Fears for the future laid bare in Sky survey

5 December 2018

Sky workers harbour a raft of fears about the firm’s takeover by broadcasting giant Comcast shown, a BECTU survey has revealed.

The investigation by the UK’s media and entertainment union saw staff share concerns about the future of the company in the wake of the £30billion buyout by Comcast.

Common concerns raised include redundancy and restructure following the Comcast takeover; changes in management; cost-cutting; a loss of core company values; transparency, and Sky’s ability to safeguard its future in the face of unprecedented competition.

Although the vast majority of respondents said they were satisfied or very satisfied with current working conditions, half of all staff who took part said they feared redundancy, while detailed comments highlighted deeper concerns about the future.

Comments made include:

“There’s a risk we can lose our values quickly in this race to become the leading media provider, being sold to the company with the highest bid."

“They should be keeping knowledge within the company instead of making people redundant to bring in new people that do not understand the systems and processes.”

“Sky are meant to be a forward thinking technology company and they need to make sure they ensure staff are kept up to date with changes."

“There is a terrible work/home balance that needs addressing.”

“Transparency is the main issue. Staff are often left in the dark regarding the company’s intentions.”

Head of BECTU Philippa Childs said: “Sky has a strong reputation as an exciting and rewarding place to work, but our survey lifts the lid on some very serious concerns that management must move swiftly to address if it wants to hold on to that reputation.

“Sky’s success has been built on the talent and commitment of staff who are now understandably concerned about the future, and fear being cut adrift if Comcast looks to make savings following its multi-billion pound buyout.

“We’ve been pressing Sky to stop keeping staff in the dark, offer workers reassurances and allow BECTU access to the workplace so that we can support staff through uncertain times. We hope they will now start to take workers’ concerns seriously and show that they’re open to better engagement with BECTU.”

The BECTU survey saw 142 Sky staff from a wide range of business units take part and followed leafleting outside Sky’s west London Osterley HQ. It was part of the ongoing “Moxie” campaign to encourage more workers to join the union and urge Sky’s executives to grant BECTU access to workplaces.  

Survey key findings 
How closely have you been following the sale of Sky?

The majority of respondents (71%) said they had been following very closely (31.5%) or quite closely (39.5%)

What do you think the impact for staff might be for a takeover? (up to three answers)

The largest area of concern was being made redundant, which was flagged by 50% of respondents. Other significant concerns included:

  • Changes to team structure (46%)
  • Parts of the business being sold off (38%)
  • Changes to my line management (25%)

Respondents also expressed concern about pay changes (23%); poor decisions being made for the business (22%); what might happen to colleagues (21%); programmes or projects being cancelled (20%); being redeployed(19%), and changes to working hours (15%)

How much information are you being given by Sky about potential changes?

This was split down the middle, with just under half of staff saying they were getting constant (10%) or regular (39%) updates, and the rest saying updates were either sporadic (18%), very few (16%) or non-existent (17%)

How satisfied are you with your current working conditions?

The vast majority (82%) said they were very satisfied (39%) or satisfied (43%). 16% said they were unsatisfied and 2% extremely unsatisfied.

What are the most positive things about working for Sky? (up to three answers)

The number one response was “the people I work with” (63%)

Other key highlights included:

  • Working on exciting programmes and projects (45%)
  • Sky’s good reputation (45%)
  • Terms and conditions (43%)
  • Being treated fairly and equally (39%)

Some respondents also showed enthusiasm for being valued for their work (26%) and being well paid (24%)

What do you think are the core issues facing Sky and television/broadcasting over the next five years?

This free-text question drew a range of responses, with the key themes being:

  • Increasing competition from on-demand streaming platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon 
  • Restructure and redundancy, including a loss of key skills
  • Lack of investment in staff training
  • Maintaining quality in the face of reduced revenue
  • Poor communication and support from senior managers/executives
  • Comcast making cuts/changes to recover costs from the buyout
  • Impact of Brexit

Respondents worked in various parts of the Sky business, including camera crew; sales; engineering; news; creative; finance; technology; software; digital, and entertainment. Of respondents, 73% were male, 25% female and 2% chose not to say.

More on the Moxie Sky campaign can be found at