ITV drags BSkyB into the red

Company makes $224.2 million loss

LONDON — Europe’s leading paybox BSkyB registered a £118 million ($224.2 million) loss for the nine months to March 31 as the falling value of its stake in U.K. terrestrial web ITV exerted pressure on the bottom line.

This compares with a profit of £388 million ($737.2 million) for the same period in 2006-07.

Sales increased by 10% to £3.7 billion ($6.4 billion) as the satcaster added a net 56,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2008 bringing the total to 8.888 million and in sight of reaching 10 million subscribers by 2010.

CEO Jeremy Darroch was bullish despite the hit taken by the holding in ITV, whose stock price has more than halved since BSkyB bought the stake in November 2006.

He said: “We are delivering for customers through a combination of great quality, value and service.

“As a result, more customers are choosing Sky, they are more satisfied and they are taking more products than ever before.”

At 10.5%, churn was at its lowest level for four years, said the company, while average revenue per user was £424 ($805.6).

The number of new customers signing up for broadband increased by 229,000 to 1.43 million, while an extra 262,000 had subscribed to BSkyB’s smart video service, Sky+, bringing the total to 3.39 million.

In a conference call, Darroch declined to comment on speculation that the paybox had been approached to sell its 17.9% stake in ITV, which U.K. regulators have told BSkyB to reduce to less than 7.5%.

The satcaster is challenging this ruling.

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