BSkyB posts weaker quarterly profits

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British pay-TV giant BSkyB announced Wednesday that net profits dipped in the first quarter of the group's financial year amid a "challenging" business environment.

Earnings after taxation slid 1.3 percent to £225 million ($354 million, 257 million euros) in the three months to September, compared with the same period of the previous fiscal year, BSkyB said in a results statement.

BSkyB, which broadcasts live English Premier League football and blockbuster movies, added that the number of household subscribers increased by 77,000 to 10.371 million. Revenues increased nine percent to £1.66 billion.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which is BSkyB's top shareholder, abandoned its bid to win full control earlier this year after a phone-hacking scandal forced it to close the British tabloid newspaper News of the World.

"We continue to deliver strong financial results and good growth in customers and products," said Chief Executive Jeremy Darroch.

"In tough market conditions, our move to more broadly based growth and multiple products is serving us well."

"Looking ahead, the environment is likely to remain challenging as a result of the pressures facing consumers in the UK and Ireland."

Murdoch's News Corp. remains the biggest single shareholder with a 39-percent stake in BSkyB, whose services also include Internet and telephone services.

Back in July, BSkyB offered its shareholders a sweetener of more than £1.0 billion in payouts as it sought to move on from News Corp.'s failed bid.

The group unveiled plans for a share buyback of £750 million and a shareholder dividend of £253 million.

The pay-TV company also insisted that Murdoch's son James would remain its chairman despite the phone-hacking row at News Corp.

© 2011 AFP

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