Sky loses ground to satellite rivals

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The Independent Online
SKY's six satellite channels, relaunched as part of a multi-package subscription deal last September, are losing out to fierce competition from other satellite channels, according to viewing figures collected by the Broadcasters' Audience Research Board (Barb).

Bill Meredith, the board's director, confirmed yesterday that while the share of total viewing taken by satellite and cable channels in homes that can receive them was unchanged at about 31 per cent, Sky's share had fallen from 21.6 per cent in June 1993 to 16.2 per cent last month.

The most dramatic falls occurred at Sky 1, the entertainment network (down from 8.5 to 5.2 per cent), Sky Movies (down from 4.8 to 3.5 per cent) and Sky Sport (down from 2.8 to 1.8 per cent).

Mike Elsey, television buying director of the advertising agency Young & Rubicam, said yesterday that Sky's performance 'was not so good'. One of its rivals, UK Gold, which screens repeats of old BBC and Thames TV programmes, was holding its audience, and Eurosport had benefited from showing the World Cup football.

Mr Elsey said the figures were causing problems for advertising sales, and had to be viewed in the context of stagnating dish sales, which had risen by less than 280,000 in the past 12 months.

Marcus Plantin, director of the ITV network, said the figures showed that viewers were sticking with the mainstream terrestrial broadcasters.