BSkyB reports pretax profits up 25%

Satcaster’s customer base passes 9 mil

LONDON -- BSkyB bucked the consumer downturn Friday, announcing pretax profits up 25% at 179 million pounds ($287 million) for the three months ending Sept. 30 on revenue up 5% to 1.2 billion pounds ($2 billion).

The satcaster added a healthy 87,000 net new customers for the period, bringing its total subscribers to 9.1 million homes. Nonetheless, it posted a 13% fall in net profit to 73 million pounds ($117 million) after taking impairment charges of 24 million pounds ($38.5 million) related higher transmission costs and the drop in value of its 17.9% share in commercial broadcaster ITV.

Transmission costs grew from 48 million pounds a year ago to 168 million pounds ($269 million) as Sky builds out its broadband service and faces increased transponder rental fees to support its portfolio of high-definition channels. Sky added 164,000 new broadband customers in the period.

Shares in the satcaster, which have undergone a turbulent market ride in recent weeks as confidence has hit all media companies, sank 3% to 367 pence ($5.89) on the news.

Chief executive Jeremy Darroch conceded that the economic climate was "tougher than in many years" but insisted that the satcaster is well placed to weather the market.

"Like all companies, we face uncertainty," he said, but said that Sky's strategy of broadening its customer offer across Internet access, high-definition and home entertainment has enabled it to build a strong customer base "with substantial headroom for growth."

"Looking ahead, the customer environment will remain challenging and we are well positioned to manage the business accordingly," he added. "Our products are better than ever."
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