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NTL to vet new punters

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NTL is to vet future customers to weed out any with a dodgy credit history.

Although the UK's biggest cable company accepts that the credit screening is likely to reduce the numbers of new punters signing up to its service, it should "improve the quality of customer adds, decrease bad debt and improve involuntary churn".

"Even in such an eventuality, the new policy is right for the long-term health of the business," said the company.

News of the crackdown came as NTL - which is still bogged down in talks with Telewest over a merger - reported that it had added 205,500 new punters in the three months to the end of June including 111,800 new broadband users.

And while NTL's consumer operation chalked up a 2.5 per cent increase in revenue during Q2, overall takings were down courtesy of a 16 per cent drop in earnings in NTL's business division.

As a result, total revenue slipped from £493.8m in Q2 04 to £482.5m this year. At the same time the company turned around an operating loss of £22.6m to post an operating income of £6.4m.

Loss from continuing operations narrowed from £267m to £66.1m due to an improvement in operating income and a reduction in net interest expense.

Earlier this week NTL announced plans to make 10 meg broadband "standard" for all its customers as part of a network upgrade due to be completed by the end of next year.

Said NTL chief exec Simon Duffy: "This strategy will put NTL into a market-leading position on all key elements of the customer purchase decision for broadband: price, speed and usage. Our broadband services will become amongst the most innovative in the world and certainly well ahead of anything else in the UK." ®

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