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U.K. Satcaster BSkyB Pledges to Spend Big

U.S. Programming a big part of projected $2.4 billion acquisitions purse.

LONDON – U.K. satcaster BSkyB promised to bolster the satellite broadcaster's spending on original home-grown programming by more than 50 percent in the next three years.

BSkyB chief Jeremy Darroch pledged the uptick in investment and said his company expects to spend £380 million ($624 million) this year on in-house production and outside commissions, including its $66 million-a-year investment in Sky News and the production element of Premier League football and other sports – a figure that the company intends to increase to £600 million ($985 million) "by 2014".

Darroch said the move to increase investment in original programming is because “we know that customers will only choose Sky if we offer something they value over and above what is available on free-to-air TV.”

Cash will be spent to ensure Sky runs original British comedy such as Stella, a comedy from Ruth Jones, the star and co-writer of Gavin & Stacey – and on a "300 percent increase" in the hours broadcast of U.K. drama including Hit and Miss, the story of a pre-op transsexual contract killer called Mia, which stars Chloë Sevigny and is written by Shameless creator Paul Abbott.

By comparison, Channel 4 said it spent £362 million ($595 million) on U.K. programming in 2010 out of a budget of £578 million ($950 million).

Sky aims to spend £2 billion ($3.3 billion) across all its channels during 2011, shelling out a whopping £1.6 billion ($2.4 billion) of that on a mix of sports rights and on U.S. programming for its bouquet of channels including Sky Atlantic and Sky1.

Revenues across the company rose 14 percent in the nine months to the end of March 2011 hitting  £4.8 billion ($7.9 billion).