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BSkyB sees first half pre-tax profit tumble as sales climb

Now has 5.1m broadband subscribers on its books after O2 merger

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BT's intense campaign to draw more eyeballs away from BSkyB failed to hit the pay-TV company's revenues during the first six months of its financial year.

But, while BSkyB - which is around 39 per cent owned by Rupert Murdoch - drove sales up more than 6 per cent to £3.7bn for the period ended 31 December, it did report a significant drop in adjusted pre-tax profit to the City this morning.

Profit fell 9.2 per cent to £554m compared with £610m in its first half results a year earlier.

On the broadband front, the company said it now had 5.1 million subscribers on its books.

It revealed that transmission, technology and fixed network costs rose by 15 per cent during the period to £221m as it swallowed the O2 home broadband business it acquired last year.

Fixed asset costs climbed 31 per cent to £218m, in part due to the integration of O2, BSkyB said. It saw its broadband customer base balloon by 21 per cent following the merger.

The pay-TV outfit's boss Jeremy Darroch said:

We are moving through a year of investment in which we are absorbing the one-off step up in Premier League costs well, with adjusted EBITDA flat [at £813m] thanks to a continued focus on operating efficiency.

Last week, there was speculatation that BSkyB and mobile carrier Vodafone had discussed the possibility of teaming up on a high-speed broadband service.

The companies declined to comment, however.

BT recently chucked a stink bomb in the direction of BSkyB when it paid hundreds of millions of pounds above the market odds to show all UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League football matches for three seasons from 2015/16 on its BT Sport television channel. ®

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