Virgin Media takes write-down over mobile

Cabler also reports it lost 20,000 customers in Q2

LONDON -- Virgin Media, the Nasdaq-listed British cable company, lost almost 20,000 customers in the second quarter and took a goodwill write-down of 336 million pounds ($653 million) related to Virgin Mobile.

The cabler, which has about 4.7 million subscribers, on Thursday announced overall revenue marginally down at 991 million pounds ($1.92 billion), from 995 million pounds last year, while last year's profit of 3 million pounds turned into an operating loss of 333 million pounds ($648 million) (including the non-cash goodwill impairment charge).

But the group showed significant growth in its high-speed Internet business, attracting 55,000 new broadband additions, and said its VOD business had been driven by adoption of the BBC iPlayer -- now available on its network -- which registered 10.1 million views in June.

CEO Neil Berkett said that the loss of customers had been predicted and that lower revenue customers were leaving the service.

"This is about a value shift in our customer base," Berkett said. "We budgeted for a net subscriber loss. What I am interested in is ARPU, churn rate and the number of products we sell. We are shifting to a value strategy and are keeping the (valuable) customers we have."
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