The head of Sky News will step down after 17 years, having steered the broadcaster through a tumultuous period in British political history and journalism's digital revolution.

"Being the Head of Sky News is one of the most exhilarating jobs in journalism," John Ryley said in a statement released late on Sunday.

"Nonetheless, after almost 40 years in the news business, 28 of which have been at Sky including 17 lucky years at the helm, I have decided, as of next year, to stop and leave Sky News behind."

Ryley took over in 2006, when the broadcaster was known almost entirely for its news channel and oversaw its transformation into a multimedia platform.

Around 10 million Britons watch the television channel each month, but the outlet is increasingly focusing on applications such as TikTok to reach a younger online audience.

Ryley was at the helm during Britain's seismic vote to leave the European Union, its subsequent political upheaval and the Covid 19 pandemic.