BSkyB in £75m advertising push

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The Independent Online

BSkyB yesterday unveiled its biggest advertising campaign in six years as part of a major push to drive up its stagnant subscription levels.

The £75m campaign is designed to attract pay-TV refuseniks who have so far resisted signing up to Sky. It will emphasise Sky's broad range of entertainment shows, cultural programming and children's products, marking a shift from its previous focus on promoting football and blockbuster movies.

Jon Florsheim, the managing director of sales and marketing, said: "We need to invest more into projecting the breadth of our product range over and above football and movies. There are many households where people have had the discussion about whether to get Sky and have said, 'Not now'. They think they will get lots of channels that they won't watch. We need to get their attention again and show them the quality of what is available even on basic packages."

The growth of Sky's subscribers - which stand at more than 7.4 million - has defied many predictions that it had already saturated the market. However, James Murdoch, the chief executive, acknowledged in August that growth rates were slowing markedly and the company now needed to reach out to new types of consumers. Analysts have pointed out that the runaway growth of Freeview, the digital terrestrial service that enables households to receive multichannel television for a one-off expense, has become an additional challenge for Sky.

The company has a long-established target of 8 million customers by the end of next year. Mr Murdoch added the new goal - of 10 million by 2010 - in August.

To help fund the advertising campaign, the company has allocated an extra 50 per cent to its advertising budget, taking it up to £75m for the financial year ending July 2005. The campaign includes billboard posters and press advertisements as well as television advertisements. These will feature scenes from programmes on the National Geographic channel, as well as clips from hit television series such as 24, which appears on Sky One, with the strapline: "What do you want to watch?"