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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 17:34 GMT
Cable company NTL shrinks losses
NTL home services - phone, TV, broadband
NTL bundles together telephone, TV and internet services
Losses at cable company NTL have narrowed, helped by a crackdown on non-paying customers.

The UK's biggest cable firm said net losses dropped 39.8% to 73.6m ($141m) compared to the same period a year ago, while revenue rose by 5.3% to 531.7m.

The company, which operates in the UK but is based in the US, added a net 34,200 subscribers in the quarter, taking its total to 3.14 million.

NTL offers customers telephone, TV and internet services.

The 34,000 figure includes those customers using the NTL network and those using Virgin.net, which it bought in November 2004.

The number of news customers using the NTL network alone came to just 20,700.

Weeding out

NTL said it had been "aggressively removing delinquent or non-paying customers" from its customer count and had introduced a new credit policy.

"We expect to add over 200,000 customers on-net this year, including a further 20% to 25% increase in our broadband customer base," said chief executive Simon Duffy.

Its churn rate - the percentage of subscribers who left the service - rose to 1.5%, the company said.

The firm recently sold its transmission masts business for 1.27bn and has already announced a 475m share buyback from some of the proceeds. The rest will be used to pay off debt.

The New York-listed group emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2003 and embarked on a major overhaul, launching a rights issue to raise 824m while cutting its workforce by 1,500.

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