Letter: Sunny statistics that light up the satellite Sky

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The Independent Online
Sir: William Phillips thinks the satellite and cable revolution has stalled ('Clouds in Murdoch's Sky', 3 August). What is the evidence? Average viewing in satellite homes has dropped 7 per cent this year compared with last. But average viewing in all homes has fallen this year. For the last week for which we have figures, the drop is nearly 10 per cent.

Contrary to what Mr Phillips says, Sky One is not a free channel, but was encrypted nearly 12 months ago. Overnight, it lost more than 10 per cent of its viewership, and has had to accept a reduced share of total satellite viewing as the number of non-

Sky channels rose from four to 12 with the launch of Sky Multi- Channels last September.

Disconnections ('churn' in the jargon) are well under control: a 10 per cent rate would gladden the hearts of, say, HBO (a cable channel in the US) which has lived for years with a churn rate of 50 per cent.

Mr Phillips talks of 'upmarket folk avoiding satellite channels'. Yet Sky's audience is upmarket of both ITV and Channel 4. In the past 12 months, 84 per cent of all new households subscribing to satellite have been ABC1. Indeed, the influx of ABC1 households (who view much less television than DE households) might explain why the amount of extra viewing in satellite homes compared with non-satellite homes has diminished so much in the past year.

Solid dish sales, continuing rises in numbers of satellite homes, growing satellite channel shares of viewing in satellite homes, a steady flow of new channels, low churn, excellent profits: if these are the size of the 'clouds in Murdoch's Sky', it is not surprising we are all experiencing a heatwave.

Yours faithfully,

DAVID ELSTEIN

Head of Programming

British Sky Broadcasting

Isleworth, Middlesex

5 August

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