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Liberty Global suffers losses despite digital subs boost

International pay-TV operator Liberty Global suffered widening losses in the first quarter of 2009. The group reported a loss of US$299m (€224.6m) for the three months to March. Revenues slid by 1.3% to US$2.58 billion.

However, despite rapidly falling analogue cable subscribers, the company, which is part owned by John Malone, continues to grow its digital cable subscriber base. The number of digital cable subs rose by 499,200 internationally with particular gains across Europe in Poland and the Czech Republic, which recorded rises of 43,500 and 40,600 respectively.

Telenet, its Belgian subsidiary, also recorded 106,700 digital additions, while Japanese arm J: Com also boosted numbers by 88,300. Its digital subs base totalled 5.6 million at the end of March, a rise of over 50% since the same period last year. However, the company lost 591,400 analogue subscribers in the quarter. Analogue cable numbers fell to 8.6 million. 


Mike Fries, president and CEO, Liberty Global, blamed rising competition of cheaper services such as digital terrestrial platforms and DTH players in Europe for the falling numbers. “As generally experiences in recent quarters, we realized an organic loss in video subscribers of 98,000 in the first quarter of 2009. A majority of these losses came from our more competitive UPC Broadband division markets in the Netherlands, Hungary and the Czech Republic, as we continue to face competition from low-priced DTT and DTH video services.”