Profits plunge in TCI satellite division

NEW YORK — TCI Satellite Entertainment Inc., the sat-TV arm of Tele-Communications Inc., lost $55 million in the three months to June 30, almost double the loss a year earlier, despite a much improved business performance.

TCI Satellite’s revenue jumped 41% to $137.3 million and its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose from $1.9 million to $22.1 million due to higher revenue per customer, higher rates, more customers and greater efficiencies, the company said.

Customer growth appears to be slowing sharply. TCI Satellite said it ended the second quarter with 757,000 customers, up 22,500 compared with an increase of 65,000 a year earlier.

TCI satellite owns 20.86% of Primestar Partners, which is being restructured into a public company, and is acquiring the high-powered satellite assets of News Corp. Both the restructuring and the News Corp. deal have to get through antitrust review, although TCI Satellite execs told reporters the Justice Dept. appeared to have no objections to the restructuring.

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