UPC posts $489 million quarterly loss

Euro-broadcaster struggling to sign digital subs

AMSTERDAM — United Pan Europe Communications has posted a 556 million euro ($489 million) loss for the first quarter of 2001, up from $411 million and despite a 67% boost in sales to $293 million.

The troubled pan-European broadcaster may also be unable to meet its digital TV take-up projections.

While cable customers jumped 900,000 to 7.2 million from the same period last year, UPC signed up only 9,000 digital subscribers in the quarter, bringing total digital take-up to a mere 33,000. The target for year end is 250,000.

UPC also announced that a transaction between its majority shareholder UnitedGlobalCom and Liberty Media – which would give UPC a badly needed $878 million in additional funding – is to be revised.

UPC said it “remains confident” that it will receive the cash. Analysts were less assured. “If anything,” said one, “it is a signal that UPC is no longer in charge of its own house.”