BSkyB is 'a fit and proper company'

 

Satellite broadcaster BSkyB today insisted it "remains a fit and proper licence holder" as it remains under the glare of media regulator Ofcom.

The watchdog is considering whether BSkyB should hold a broadcast licence in the wake of the phone-hacking crisis at News International, which is owned by BSkyB shareholder News Corporation.

Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of NewsCorp, which has a 39% stake in BSkyB, was told in a report by a committee of MPs yesterday that he was "not a fit person" to run an international company.

But BSkyB, which revealed a net rise in customers of 78,000 to 10.5 million in the three months to March 31, hailed its "positive contribution to UK audiences, employment and the broader economy".

Shares in BSkyB were 2% higher as the update was well-received by investors.

Richard Hunter, head of equities at Hargreaves Lansdown Stockbrokers, said BSkyB was "powering ahead" despite other "distractions".

BSkyB reported a 5% increase in revenues in the nine months to March 31, despite freezing prices for customers, to £5.1 billion and a 17% rise in pre-tax profits to £853 million.

New net customer additions were comprised of 63,000 standalone broadband customers and 15,000 TV customers.

Strong growth in home communications has taken the number of customers with each of TV, broadband and telephone services - known as "triple play - to 3.2 million, up 24% year on year.

The number of customers taking high-definition TV services reached 4.2 million, with 159,000 net additions in the quarter, an increase on the 138,000 net additions in the second quarter. BSkyB said this was boosted by the launch of a new Sky Sports Formula 1 HD channel.

The group has been lifted by its own TV comedy and drama commissions, including Treasure Island and Gavin And Stacey star Ruth Jones's new comedy-drama Stella.

Forty-three entertainment shows in the quarter generated an audience of at least one million viewers, more than double the number in the same quarter last year, BSkyB added.

The group's online and mobile service, Sky Go, hit 2.6 million unique users in the quarter, up 24% from the second quarter.

The phone-hacking scandal at News International, which led to the closure of Sunday tabloid the News of the World, scuppered News Corp's plans to take full control of BSkyB and ultimately led to Rupert Murdoch's son, James, stepping down as chairman of the broadcaster.

Elsewhere in today's update, BSkyB said it had concluded a review of the editorial practices at Sky News and had "found no evidence of impropriety or cause for concern".

Referring to two incidents in which a Sky News journalist accessed the email of individuals suspected of criminal activity, BSkyB said "the action was justified in the public interest and subject to proper editorial oversight".

PA

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