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Ax looming at BSkyB

Job losses feared amid satcaster cost cuts

LONDON — Workers at U.K. satcaster giant BSkyB are bracing for job cuts as part of CEO James Murdoch’s efficiency drive.

The chief exec is understood to have hired number-crunchers the Boston Consulting Group to review the paybox’s cost structure and identify areas for savings.

While BSkyB delivered better-than-expected subscriber growth for the first quarter of the year, adding 95,000 new customers, increased sub churn, high marketing costs and a dip in average revenue per sub have put pressure on Murdoch.

Churn rose from 9.4% to 11% in the 12 weeks from January to March, the highest in five years.

At the same time, BSkyB’s marketing spend surged by £80 million ($147 million) to $696.5 million, representing 13% of revenue.

Murdoch and BSkyB chief operating officer Richard Freudenstein are believed to be heading the review.

It’s unclear how many jobs are threatened, but reports in local media that up to 1,000 — roughly 10% of BSkyB’s U.K. workforce — are in danger appear to be high.

A BSkyB spokesman said: “We keep costs across the board … under the microscope at all times. No decision regarding any job losses has been taken.”

The satcaster, which has been hit by the success of digital terrestrial TV platform Freeview, in which it paradoxically owns a stake, employs people throughout the U.K. and Ireland. Most staffers work at BSkyB’s West London HQ, near Heathrow Airport, and at two facilities in Scotland.