BT wins 1-0 in TV clash ; TELECOMS GIANT OUTSHINES SKY CITY DESK [Mirror (UK)]
(Mirror (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) BT piled pressure on rival Sky yesterday as the pair battle for customers.
The telecoms giant revealed a surge in internet users, bumper sales and a jump in profits.
But BT risked a backlash from customers unhappy with service.
It declared war on Sky by offering free TV sports channels to households that buy broadband.
The jewel in its crown are Premier League football rights - and it splashed out big money on them.
And the gamble has paid off, for now, with BT signing up 150,000 new broadband customers in the past three months - beating Sky's 110,000 new additions.
Numbers of BT Sport customers have grown by 500,000 to more than 2.5million since last August.
Revenue from households rose 6% - the best for 10 years - and group quarterly sales increased for the first time in four and half years.
BT's profits rose by a better-thanexpected 8% to Pounds 722million.
The increase came 24 hours after Sky revealed its half-year profits had dived nearly 10%. BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said: "This is an encouraging set of results."
But the firm has faced customer service problems with BT Sport.
Regulator Ofcom found it was the most complained about pay-TV provider between July and September last year, with gripes doubling from the previous quarter.
It also hiked some charges by more than 6% last month, in a move that could see it rake in an extra Pounds 245million.
And the Communication Workers Union will begin talks with BT bosses this month about staff pay claims. Andy Kerr, CWU deputy general secretary said: "It's great to see BT performing well and this is good news for all BT employees who have worked hard to deliver the new services that BT offers.
"We will be negotiating with BT management in the near future about pay for CWU represented grades, and we'll be looking to secure a fair deal that properly reflects the contribution BT's workforce makes to the company's ongoing success."
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