U.S. News

Virgin Media's Second-Quarter Net Subscribers Fell


British cable operator Virgin Media, which has extended the deadline for its auction due to debt market turbulence, said net customers in the second quarter fell 70,300 on the previous quarter.

The company said its overall net customers had fallen to 4.7 million amid a row with BSkyB and declines in its fixed-line telephone services. Virgin estimated it had lost 40,000 customers in the quarter.

The two companies are locked in a legal wrangle, in which Virgin has accused Sky of abusing its dominant position in the market. Virgin stopped carrying several Sky channels in March after that and the two sides failed to agree on the fees Sky would pay.

Virgin Media said its broadband customer numbers rose by 51,000 in the second quarter to 3.5 million and that its outlook for the rest of the year remained strong.

The group, launched this year from the merger of NTL, Telewest and Virgin's mobile phone division, said on Wednesday it had 2,200 net new additions to its television service.

Virgin Mobile contract customers in the second quarter rose by 53,000 to 299,000, the company said.

Operating income before depreciation, amortization and other charges rose to 315.3 million pounds ($639.1 million) from 305.7 million last year.

Second-quarter group revenue slipped to 995 million pounds from 1.021 billion in the first quarter, but was higher than the 884 million pounds posted a year ago.

"The second quarter results show encouraging broadband and mobile contract growth, a resilient performance by our TV business and signs that our fixed line telephony business performance is starting to react to renewed management focus," said Virgin Media Chief Executive Steve Burch.

On Tuesday, Virgin Media postponed the sale of the company after it became apparent buyers would not have access to the debt needed to do a deal right away.

Shares in Virgin Media, which are listed on the Nasdaq in New York, closed down on Tuesday at $23.48, below the level where they were before the company put itself up for auction last month.