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Theresa Wise, Media Strategist
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Wednesday, 9 May, 2001, 12:47 GMT 13:47 UK
BSkyB's digital TV 'on target'
Rupert Murdoch
Murdoch's satellite operation in the UK is losing money
Rupert Murdoch's UK satellite television group BSkyB has almost quadrupled its pre-tax losses during January to March, but said subscriptions to its digital service continued to grow.

Pre-tax losses rose to 105.1m (149.8m), from 28.4m in the same quarter a year ago, but were in line with expectations.

BSkyB, 37.5% owned by Mr Murdoch's News Corp, is also taking a 40m charge to restructure its interactive arm, in which parent company Sky recently boosted its stake after regulatory clearance.

BSkyB's number of total direct-to-home subscribers on 31 March climbed to 5.3 million compared with 5.05 million at the end of 2000.

Digital on track

Ninety-five percent of subscribers have moved to BSkyB's digital service ahead of the planned switch-off of the analogue signal this summer but the cancellation or "churn" rate stood at 9.9% on an annualised basis.

The company has set a target of seven million subscribers by the end of 2003.

Pre-tax loss, before exceptional items of 188.9m, widened to 176.4m in the nine months to 31 March from a 89.9m loss in the same period a year earlier.

News Corp results

Rupert Murdoch's News Corp reported a better than expected third quarter after-tax profit of $127m, before exceptional items compared with $193m a year earlier. Revenues rose to $3.27bn from $3.24bn.

Declines in its filmed entertainment and newspaper divisions offset were offset by improvements in cable networks and television, it said.

The company is in talks to buy General Motors' satellite television unit DirecTv, which would make it the first global satellite network.

Meanwhile, Fox Entertainment Group, the US film, television and cable arm of News Corp on Wednesday posted a third-quarter loss.

The company blamed declining advertising revenue from its television business which offset a strong sales in its film division.

The unit reported a loss of $9m compared with a profit of $19m last year.

Revenues totalled $1.97bn, up from $1.88b a year ago.

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23 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Sky battles ITN for news contract
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26 Jul 00 | Business
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