BSkyB Defends Its Record And Grows Profits
BSkyB has announced record profits and defended its business as its ownership remains under the glare of the media regulator.
The company, which owns Sky News, confirmed a 15% increase in operating profits to £908m over the nine months to the end of March while revenues hit £5.1bn.
While giving its performance update, BSkyB also insisted it was a fit and proper holder of a UK broadcasting licence.
The company's suitability is currently being tested by Ofcom after News Corporation's shareholding was called into question.
News Corp, which owns 39% of BSkyB, had to withdraw its bid to buy the rest of the group last July after the phone-hacking scandal at the News Corp-owned News International.
Last month, Rupert Murdoch's son James resigned as BSkyB chairman in a bid to ensure he did not become a "lightning rod" for the broadcaster as his role at News International remained under scrutiny.
BSkyB insisted that it was co-operating with the media regulator's investigation into its licence but argued that it met the terms demanded of it.
It pointed to a positive contribution to UK audiences, employment and the broader economy, as well as a strong record of regulatory compliance and high standards of governance.
BSkyB said it had also concluded a review of the editorial practices at Sky News and "found no evidence of impropriety or cause for concern".
Referring to two incidents in which a Sky News journalist accessed the email ofindividuals suspected of criminal activity, BSkyB said "the action was justified in the public interest and subject to proper editorial oversight."
Shares in BSkyB rose more than 2% in early trading today following the announcement of the results.
Its chief executive Jeremy Darroch said the company had made a "good start" to 2012.
"In what remains a tough economic environment, strong and consistent execution of our plan has delivered good growth across our product range", he added.
That plan has included a focus on retaining existing customers, partly through a price freeze while adding content value through programming investment.
It had 10.55 million customers overall by the end of March, an increase of 78,000 over the nine months.
BSkyB said its performance was driven by its strongest-ever quarter for home communications, with 702,000 additions of broadband, telephony and line rental.
The company said that meant it was now Britain's favourite 'triple play' provider with 3.2 million customers.
The group added fewer new customers to its TV service in its third quarter, just 15,000 compared with 51,000 a year earlier.
However there was strong growth for its high-definition television service and BSkyB said its new channel for Formula One was also proving popular.