David Fletcher - 30 years at Sky

Changing the game posted on 24 Jul

In early 1984 a telegram arrived in the post letting David know he’d got a job as a Transmission Controller for what was then called ‘The Sky Channel’. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Sky Careers

This telegram marked the start of a 30 year career with Sky, that not even retirement can keep him from.

At the time, the operation was run from a single facility in Wardour Street, central London. Since then Sky’s operational facilities have moved location twice. David is now based in the Broadcast Centre in Sky Studios at Osterley. 

Over David’s career he has been at the core of Sky’s growth.  “When I applied for the job it sounded terribly exciting. At first the team was so small and the CEO would even make tea for me. Now, given our size, I think my chances of that are pretty low”.

“Even then our team worked 24 hours a day. And while we worked, the business was literally built around us.”

At the forefront of the rapid change in Broadcast Technology, David has seen it all.

He said “Back in the day when it all started in Broadcasting we had no playlists and the content was all run manually. Stopwatches and calculations on paper were used to keep the channels running on time.” 

The evolution in technology and change from analogue to digital and SD to HD, one channel to multichannel and manual to automated play out, means that we can manage many more channels per person within the dedicated Playout Team.

The team bring together the component parts of each TV channel. That’s the pictures, audio, subtitles, logos, live programmes, movies and commercial breaks to create the final content that is delivered to our customers.

This can be affected by things like over runs of live content, delays and even the dropping of programmes. Sky Playout’s job is to respond and manage seamlessly the flow of content, so that the viewer experience is unaffected.

Even though David now works part time, he continues to work across all channels, live events and complex operations, training others and passing on a wealth of broadcast experience.

David concluded “I plan to keep working, and hope to stay here until I’m 100!”