SYDNEY — Foxtel, the Australian pay TV co-venture between Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and telco Telstra, lost A$98 million ($76.4 million) in the six months to Dec. 31, the company disclosed Friday.

Stressing that the result was expected, Foxtel contrasted its performance with that of rivals Optus Vision, which lost $131 million, and Australis Media, which lost $110 million.

That brings the combined losses in that period for the three major pay TV operators to $317.4 million.

Foxtel said its subscriber count grew from 82,000 to more than 135,000 in that six months (a penetration of nearly 15% of the 900,000 homes marketed) and stands currently at more than 150,000.

CEO Tom Mockridge said sign-up and retention rates have improved due to the strengthening of Foxtel’s sports package with the addition of the Super League rugby competish, Super 12 Rugby Union and the Australian cricket tour of South Africa.

Telstra chief exec Frank Blount has revealed that he is discussing sharing Telstra’s cable network with rival Optus Vision. Telstra’s web has passed 1.5 million homes and is obliged to expand to 4 million under the terms of its co-venture with Murdoch.

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