British satellite-TV broadcaster BSkyB last week announced higher-than-expected subscriber growth for its fiscal third quarter (ended March 31), but warned take-up of dTV in the UK could be harmed by a proposed tax buried in the draft Communications Bill recently unveiled by the government.

BSkyB lifted its direct-to-home subscriber base by 171,000 in the quarter, taking the total to 5.89 million. However, despite this 21% increase compared with Q3 2001, revenues came in below forecasts at £707.6m ($1.03 billion; €1.13bn) after ad income tumbled 11% year on year.

Pre-tax losses from ordinary operations narrowed from £111.1m last year to £30.8m, while EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) slipped from £62.3m twelve months ago to £56.2m.

Meanwhile, BSkyB vowed to fight the government’s proposed tax, which would charge satellite operators for use of the radio spectrum. The broadcaster warned that any additional costs imposed on satellite firms could slow the uptake of dTV by the public.

In addition, the tax may run into opposition from other countries in the European Union, as it could affect numerous European operators whose signals can be accessed in the UK.

“The plan would discriminate against dozens of satellite operators and users across Europe and be counter to the government’s idea of encouraging digital rollout,” BSkyB declared.

The legislation faces months of scrutiny and consultation with the media industry before it can become law.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff