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BSkyB switches back to profit, will create 1,000 jobs

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) Jan 28, 2009
British pay-TV giant BSkyB on Wednesday said it returned to profit during the first half of its financial year and said it planned to create 1,000 jobs, sending its share price rising seven percent.

BSkyB posted net profit of 166 million pounds (179 million euros, 237 million dollar) in the six months to December, compared with a loss of 112 million pounds in the same period a year earlier.

"In a very challenging economic environment, we have delivered a great set of results by focusing on quality, value and service for our customers," BSkyB chief executive Jeremy Darroch said in a statement.

The satellite television provider, whose biggest shareholder is Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, said group revenue rose 5.8 percent to 2.60 billion pounds in its first half and subscribers to its TV service advanced 1.8 percent to 9.24 million.

"Whilst no consumer business is immune to a downturn, our focus on quality, value and service for customers positions us well," BSkyB added in its statement.

"In addition, we have taken early action on reducing costs and we retain a good degree of flexibility in our cost base."

The company said its top priority in 2009 was increasing subscription to its High Definition-TV service which offers subsribers better picture quality.

"As a result of our actions on efficiency and costs, and to support the anticipated acceleration in demand for... HD, we are creating around 1,000 new jobs in our customer service and installation teams," said BSkyB.

It added that it intended to grow its customer base for its broadband Internet and landline telephone services. On Wednesday it said that it was Britain's "fastest growing broadband provider" with 1.96 million Sky Broadband customers.

The company added that it was also Britain's fastest growing home telephony service with 1.50 million Sky Talk customers.

"We enter 2009 in a strong position," said Darroch.

"Against a very difficult and uncertain economic backdrop, we will continue to focus our efforts on providing customers with more of what they want."

Investors cheered BSkyB's update, sending its share price rising 7.25 percent to 466.25 pence in London. The capital's FTSE 100 index of leading shares was up 1.37 percent at 466.25 pence.

BSkyB is famed for helping to transform the face of British football through its multi-billion-pound deals to broadcast live matches from the English Premier League. The group is also home to 24-hour TV station Sky News.

BSkyB had posted a loss during the first half of 2007-2008 owing to writedowns linked to its stake in rival British broadcaster ITV.

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SSC Agrees To Acquire Universal Space Network
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Jan 22, 2009
The Swedish Space Corporation (SSC) and Universal Space Network (USN) have reached an agreement in which SSC will acquire all the shares of US-based USN. The two companies have been working in close cooperation for the last ten years, providing satellite owners with access to a cohesive network of ground stations that provide near-global coverage of any spacecraft orbit.

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