BSkyB reports colossal profit rise

MUMBAI: The Murdoch owned pay-TV company BSkyB has reported a record operating profit of ?438 million - a massive 76 per cent increase on the previous year's quarterly figures.

According to a media report, the net operating cash inflow increased by 131 per cent to ?518 million, while profit after tax increased almost tenfold, from ?28 million to ?243 million. The network's total revenue increased by 16 per cent to ?2,697 million. Also notable is the fact that the number of DTH subscribers rose by 66,000 to 7.3 million.

BSkyB chief executive James Murdoch was quoted in a media report saying, "Sky continues to deliver improvement in its financial performance, and remains on track to hit all operational and financial targets. Slower DTH subscriber growth during the quarter reflected our decision to pull back on platform marketing in a seasonally quiet period."

The company also revealed that it would not sell the rights to broadcast six to eight Premier League soccer matches because none of the bids it received reached a price per match agreed upon with regulators.

BSkyB has signed up new pay-television subscribers at the slowest pace in more than two years in its third quarter, but its profit increased anyway because it sold its 20 per cent stake in a home shopping channel to QVC, generating a gain of about ?49 million.

Net income jumped to ?113 million from ?17 million a year earlier, BSkyB said. Sales rose to ?931 million from ?819 million.

James Murdoch, who became CEO in November, is counting on Sky Plus, which lets users rewind live TV, and on luring more viewers to reach eight million subscribers by the end of 2005.

The company also announced that James had agreed a 12-month rolling contract, seven months after being installed as BSkyB CEO. According to a media report, Murdoch will earn an annual salary of ?750,000, plus ?200, per year in relocation and other expense allowances for three years. He will also be entitled to a bonus. Murdoch is being granted 450,000 BSkyB shares, though 70 per cent of the entitlement will be subject to performance.

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