NTL loses cable TV subs in Q1

Revenue falls at U.K. cabler

LONDON –- The U.K.’s largest cable operator NTL lost 17,600 cable TV subscribers bringing total to just over 2 million and watched its revenue dip by £9.6 million ($15.5 million) to $882 million for the first three months ended March 31, 2003, its first post-restructuring quarter.

Company attributed decline in revenue to the challenging conditions related to its restructuring. NTL has been focusing on cutting its remaining $6.6 billion debt rather than wooing cable TV subscribers.

Capital expenditure was down $38 million to $133 million while operating cash flow was up $36.3 million to $119 million. Cost cutting helped lift earnings before tax, interest, depreciation and amortization slightly to $253 million.

NTL adopted fresh-start reporting to reflect its emergence from Chapter 11 in January and as a result reported a $6.8 billion of exceptional income in Q1 2003. The gain is associated with discharge of a portion of NTL’s debt.

On the upside, it’s managed to bring its churn rate down from 17.9% in Q1 2002 to 13% in Q1 2003. Company is also trying to convert more subscribers to digital. Only 62% (1,235,000) of customers have so far switched to digital. Broadband subs have risen by 143,800 to 660,900, but company warns that growth rate is likely to slow in subsequent quarters.

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