01 March 2000

FORGET BORING old concepts like profits and shareholder dividends! Dotcom delirium still rules among the EC2 bookies and even the deep slump into the red by BSkyB failed to quell the e-uphoria over the broadcaster’s unveiling of its new internet strategy.

Despite a massive reversal in half-year results -from £53.2m in the black to £61.5m in the red - Sky’s share price soar rocketed by 19% to £19.10 on news that it plans to invest £250m in new internet ventures over the next 12-18 months. Among these are the expansion of its and websites, as well as a joint venture with Hull-based Kingston Communications in which Sky will transmit films and multimedia services down traditional phonelines to 170,000 homes in east Yorkshire. Sky Digital’s latest subscriber fig-ures, now 2.3m, also helped fuel the frenzy.

"We’re not an internet start-up which has to spend 80% of its capital to get brand awareness", said chief ex-ecutive Tony Ball. I want the Sky brand to be in all bands in all devices." Mr Ball [who clearly knows how to prestidigitate away disastrous results] also enchanted the Square Mile with his forecast of 5m subscribers to Sky Digital by the end of the next financial year.