Fiscal Gloom From US-UK Cable Duo

04 April 2003

NTL and Telewest Communications, the cash-haemorrhaging US-owned British cable duopoly whose operations are primarily UK-based, unveiled their annual results this week.

There were no surprises, both companies posting substantial losses for the year to December 2002. NTL (a Chapter 11 survivor) recorded a deficit of £1.7 billion ($2.67bn; €2.48bn), while the smaller Telewest reported a bigger loss, plunging deeper into the red by £2.2bn.

However, the champagne corks were popping in the carpeted corridors of NTL as directors, senior managers and advisors celebrated bonuses totalling – take a long deep breath – over £100 million for nobly sticking with the company and remaining motivated during its period of restructuring. This sum includes the £1.1m severance payment to former chief operating officer Stephen Carter, now ceo of new media supra-regulator Ofcom.

NTL president and chief executive officer Barclay Knapp claimed that the company has stemmed its alarming subscriber churn and added both to its broadband and digital TV customer numbers. He forecast that Q1 2003 would see 24,000 new subscribers.

Telewest predicted only that it would shed another 300 jobs over the year ahead.

Data sourced from: Media Week (UK); additional content by WARC staff