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BSkyB hands out £1bn, board backs James Murdoch

Not even walking round the table with a baseball bat, either

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BSkyB, which is 39 per cent-owned by Rupert Murdoch's media empire News Corp, coughed up £1bn to investors today and threw its full support behind its embattled chairman James Murdoch.

The company reported a 16 per cent rise in full-year revenue this morning at £6.45bn, compared with £5.7bn at the end of June 2010.

Operating profit climbed by nearly a quarter to £1.07bn.

BSkyB returned £750m to investors with an uncharacteristic share buy-back scheme. The firm handed out a further £253m through a final dividend of 14.54 pence a share.

“It is to the credit of Sky’s first-class management team that the company has continued to deliver throughout the offer period that ended earlier this month," noted James Murdoch in the company's results report.

At the start of July, News Corp failed in its bid to buy the remaining 61 per cent of BSkyB it didn't already own, following immense political pressure.

Rupert Murdoch's company temporarily withdrew its offer as the phone-hacking scandal at its sister firm News International intensified.

BSkyB boss Jeremy Darroch noted that the British economy remained a challenge but added that the company reported "record earnings" of 41.6p per share.

"Over the year, we increased the number of customers taking all three of TV, broadband and telephony by 37 per cent and extended our potential reach by selling home communications products independently from television for the first time," he said.

"We now have over 100,000 customers taking standalone broadband and telephony products and we see plenty of scope for continued growth."

But the company's average revenue per user (ARPU) figure, a metric closely watched by big telcos in the UK, fell from £544 in Q3 to £539 in the final quarter of BSkyB's fiscal year ended 30 June 2011. Darroch admitted BSkyB "wasn't immune to tougher economic conditions".

Meanwhile, Labour MP Tom Watson is asking the media, culture and sports committee to recall James Murdoch to Parliament to answer more questions on allegations of illegal voicemail interception at News International's now-defunct Sunday tabloid News of the World.

According to the BBC, that newspaper's final editor, Colin Myler, and its former legal boss Tom Crone will also be asked to face the committee.

Both men claimed last week that James Murdoch had previously been informed that use of phone-hacking at the NotW was more widespread than the work of one "rogue reporter".

The BSkyB chairman said he stood by his original testimony to the committee of MPs he faced earlier this month with his dad, billionaire biz tyrant Rupert. ®

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