Sky staff worked with colleagues at the Media Trust and the Community Channel to make use of the new interactive giving facility which had recently been developed for the Community Channel with funding and support from Sky. This facility enabled viewers to use the interactive ‘red’ button to donate to DEC. Sky also filmed its own appeal to broadcast.
The appeal appeared as a rolling item on all their news output throughout the day, and for the following weeks. This was the first time a news channel had agreed to promote an emergency appeal by interactive technology and it was up and running by 29 December, just three days after the first news of the Tsunami.
Every 10 minutes Sky News viewers were prompted to press the red button & donate, either by the rolling news ‘ticker’ along the bottom of the screen, or big ‘breaking news’ straps appearing onscreen or indeed with the constant verbal calls-to-action by the news presenters themselves. In addition work was done by Sky and The Community Channel to allow interactive donations to be available from third party broadcasters on the Sky Digital platform, including C4, Discovery and the BBC.
The appeal gave access to 7 million households with a Sky Box. Total donations were more than £600,000 and over 200,000 people used the facility.
Within two days of the disaster BSkyB made a corporate donation of £30,000. A decision was made to double existing match funding arrangements from £300 to £600; this was communicated to staff using a global email. Employee’s fundraising - both at work and home – was also encouraged and supported. Once the scale of the disaster became apparent, BSkyB made additional donations of £70,000, taking their total cash donation to £100,000.
Sky News used the on-screen ticker to pass information between people in the disaster area and their families. Sky Sports bid for the rights to screen the DEC cricket matches and, while these were being broadcast, Sky Sports also made use of the red button.