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British Sky Broadcasting

Isleworth, U.K.

Revenue: $4.14 billion

Net Loss: $2 billion

British Sky Broadcasting tightened its grip on the U.K. pay TV biz in the past year, a development precipitated by the collapse of rival ITV Digital, and the financial woes of cablers NTL and Telewest.

The satcaster, controlled by 37% shareholder Rupert Murdoch through his Sky Global Networks vehicle, completed its transition into a digital-only service in the fall, and now has over 6 million subscribers. The target of 7 million subs by the end of 2003, set by chief executive officer Tony Ball, looks well within reach.

Although the heavy costs of the digital switch are keeping the satcaster in the red, its sales and average revenue per subscriber are consistently outperforming expectations with double-digit growth.

BSkyB also supported the BBC’s successful bid to take over the digital terrestrial frequencies vacated by ITV Digital, thus preventing a new pay TV rival from entering the market.

But it hasn’t all been good news. The satcaster posted a record half-year loss after writing off its entire £1 billion ($1.57 billion) investment in Kirch Pay TV. It even gave Kirch a helping hand toward bankruptcy by attempting to exercise its put option for a refund of its investment.

The Office of Fair Trading warned BSkyB that it’s likely to be found guilty of price gouging over the supply of its channels to rival distributors.

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