The long-awaited dividend to patient stockholders in News Corporation-controlled satellite broadcaster BSkyB moved a giant step nearer on Monday when debt-rating agency Standard & Poor's raised its debt and bank loan rating on the company from 'junk' status to 'investment' grade -- or to use the jargon of the trade, from BB+ to BBB-.

Said S&P analyst Trevor Pritchard: "BSkyB's solid operating performance, profitability and cash generation have led to consistent reductions in its debt burden. We consider these improvements to be sustainable, taking into account the near-term prospect for a possible reinstatement of the group's equity dividend."

Continued the entrail-raker: "The combination of rising revenues from a critical mass of more than seven million subscribers and a significant proportion of fixed costs is translating into improved operating margins."

BSkyB disadvantageous debt-rating was incurred during its three-year investment in the pioneering roll-out of British digital TV. Debt has declined from a peak of £1.8 billion ($3.14bn; €2.57bn) in December 2001 to £1 billion in September 2003.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff