BSkyB says net profits sink in third quarter

28th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

BSkyB, the British pay-TV giant being wooed by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., announced on Thursday that third-quarter net profits fell owing to one-off charges, but added that demand was buoyant.

Earnings after taxation sank 39 percent to £174 million ($288 million, 195 million euros) in the three months to the end of March, BSkyB said in a results statement.

That compared with net profit of £286 million in the same part of the group's previous financial year, when its performance was boosted by the forced sale of its stake in terrestrial broadcaster ITV.

Turnover meanwhile jumped 13 percent to £1.65 billion, boosted by increased demand for its high-definition television services.

And BSkyB added 51,000 new customers in its third quarter, taking its total number of subscribers to 10.15 million households.

"The business has delivered another good performance in what has clearly been a tough consumer environment and we are benefiting from the transition to more broadly based growth," said Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch.

"Good progress on multiple fronts is translating into strong financial results with double digit growth in revenue, profit and cash flow."

Meanwhile, analysts expect that the British government will approve News Corp.'s proposed takeover of BSkyB in the coming weeks.

In a reference to this, BSkyB said on Thursday that it "will continue co-operate with the ongoing regulatory process."

Last month, the government had cleared the way to approve News Corp's bid to win control of BSkyB, after the pay-TV group agreed to spin off its Sky News operation to address competition concerns.

In a long-awaited announcement, culture and media minister Jeremy Hunt said he would accept the proposals on Sky News "in lieu of" referring the BSkyB deal to the competition authorities. However, this decision sparked a furious response from rival media groups.

Last year, News Corp. bid 7.8 billion pounds for full control of British BSkyB, but the television giant which screens live English Premier League football demanded a higher price tag.

News Corp. -- which controls such major media outlets as Fox television and The Wall Street Journal -- currently has about 39 percent of BSkyB.

© 2011 AFP

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