BSkyB announces promising results

Paybox stock price surges

LONDON — Better than expected subscriber figures drove a surge in the stock price of Europe’s leading pay box, BSkyB, Wednesday (May 2), as it reported results for the nine months to March.

In the first quarter of 2007, the Mudoch-controlled broadcaster added 340,000 new subscribers – a 25% increase – bringing the total number of BSkyB customers in the U.K. and Ireland to 8.49 million.

For the nine months to March sales increased 10% to £3.38 billion ($6.76) as profits slipped back from $890 million to $776 million.

Investors were also encouraged by strong take-up of broadband.This more than doubled to 553,000 customers.

Churn, however, increased to 13.7% between January to March, up from 11.9% in the last three months of 2006.

Said BSkyB CEO James Murdoch: “Our investments in customer service, value and quality are driving more customers to choose more services from Sky than ever before.”

But long term clouds remain on the horizon for BSkyB, increasingly facing regulatory scrutiny in Bighty and also involved in a protracted dispute with cable rival Virgin Media.

Sky has pulled channels from Virgin following a row over carriage fees, now the subject of a court case.

The pay box said that its operating profits for the full year could fall by up to $40 million unless its channels are reinstalled on the Virgin platform.

Last Friday fears were expressed by U.K. regulators that BSkyB’s recent purchase of a 17.9% stake in ITV, Blighty’s biggest private terrestrial web, could be contrary to the public interest.

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