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Sky meets year-end deadline to hit 8m subscriber figure

LONDON – BSkyB has finally hit its 8m subscriber target just weeks before its December 31 deadline.

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The satellite giant set the target to hit 8m subscriptions by the end of 2005, in 2003 after its previous 7m subscriber target was achieved by the end of that year.

James Murdoch, chief executive of BSkyB, said: "Sky is achieving strong growth. Nearly one in three homes and counting have
chosen Sky and we are especially well placed to broaden Sky's appeal as entertainment and communications come together."

Sky is now aiming to reach 10m subscribers by 2010, with 25% penetration of its personal video recorder service Sky+ and 30% multi-room penetration.

Sky+ currently has 1,027,000 subscribers or 13% of the population, while households with more than one box - a major target for Sky growth - have more than doubled year on year, rising by 103,000 in the quarter to 748,000.

In its third quarter results in November, Sky's subscriber figure was dented by people deserting the broadcaster, as its so-called churn rate rose to 11.7% from 10.5% in the previous quarter.

The satellite giant blamed the desertions on the recent price rise of between £1.50 to £3 a month for most customers and "a challenging economic and competitive climate".

At the time, BSkyB said pre-tax profit was up 14% to £200m and revenues exceeded analyst estimates, rising 8% to £1bn. Profits after tax rose by 15% to £140m.

The news comes as BSkyB's chief operating officer Richard Freudenstein is set to leave the group next year to move back to Australia with his family.

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