BSkyB `on course for Warner deal'

Television wars: Satellite giant marches relentlessly on as a change in the rules spells further consolidation in the sector

BSkyB yesterday vigorously denied claims that it had indefinitely postponed the UK launch of the Warner Channel after pressure from Rupert Murdoch, the satellite channel's 40 per cent shareholder.

Gerry Robinson, chairman of BSkyB, insisted the decision had been entirely a commercial one taken by the company itself and claimed a deal with Warner could be signed soon.

"We continue to be in discussions with them and we expect a satisfactory outcome," he said after BSkyB's annual meeting yesterday.

On Thursday night the group made the surprise announcement that the Warner Channel would not be appearing yesterday, even though the US company had advertised a 1 November launch around the UK. Warner Channel, part of Ted Turner's Time Warner empire, would offer a selection of cartoons including Bugs Bunny and a range of old films.

Sources close to BSkyB claimed the delay had been caused by arguments over the price of the channel, rather than the long-running and public feud in the US between Mr Murdoch and Mr Turner.

Mr Murdoch, a BSkyB director, was noticeably absent from the podium at the AGM in London. His daughter, Elisabeth, also a BSkyB executive though not on the board, was in the audience.

This latest twist in the saga of Mr Murdoch's tightening grip on the pay-television market emerged as BSkyB released figures showing growth continued to exceed expectations.

Pre-tax profits soared by 31 per cent, from pounds 51m to pounds 66m in the three months to the end of September against forecasts of around pounds 60m, while turnover jumped by 24 per cent to pounds 266m. Earnings per share increased by 30 per cent, to 3.9p.

There was a net increase of 146,000 new subscribers during the period, taking the total number of paying customers in the UK and the Irish Republic to 5.65 million, of which 3.3 million used satellite dishes and 1.87 million received BSkyB through local cable companies.

The group also disclosed that it was considering further investments in Germany in addition to the 49 per cent stake in DF1, the digital television transmission platform in July.

The results did little to bolster the company's flagging share price, which has fallen sharply on news that Mr Murdoch was considering using his stake as collateral to raise $1bn in a convertible share issue to fund future media projects. Shares in BSkyB fell 9.5p to close at 569p.

Asked by one small shareholder at the AGM whether Mr Murdoch intended to go ahead with the controversial arrangement, which was apparently postponed pending yesterday's quarterly results, Mr Robinson replied: "Nothing has been finalised on that ... we at BskyB have no influence over that."

The board also managed to fend off a shareholder revolt over a resolution that would prevent two directors from ever having to be re-elected to the board in future. Both Jerome Seydoux and Michel Crepon were reappointed under the controversial formula which also applies to other directors after Mr Robinson announced that shareholders accounting for 96 per cent of the company had voted in favour.

One investor, John McCallum from the West Midlands Pension Fund, said the provisions were "so banal they are unbelievable".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - LONDON

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000 + Car + Pension: SThree: SThree are a ...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K: SThree: We consistently strive to be the...

SThree: Graduate Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £35K - £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been we...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'