Virgin Media posts fourth quarter losses

Virgin Media’s fourth-quarter losses widened as costs more than doubled due to the company’s increased marketing spend. The cable operator, which rebranded from NTL last month, says it lost a net 37,000 customers in the quarter.

The net loss was £122m, compared with a loss of £56.2m a year earlier, the company says in a statement today. Costs rose to £1.07bn from £519m in the same period last year.

However, sales more than doubled to £1bn after the merger of NTL and Telewest last year and its subsequent acquisition of Virgin Mobile. Revenue was expected at £953m pounds.

Chief executive Steve Burch says his focus is to have “positive subscriber growth” this year and to reduce the company’s churn, or customer cancellation rate.

The cable giant has been involved in a highly publicised spat with rival BSkyB following its relaunch last month.

They are in a dispute over distribution fees for four Sky channels with the companies’ current contract to air Sky One, Sky Two, Sky Sports News and Sky News on Virgin due to expire at midnight tonight.

Virgin Media today said that Sky’s price increases do not bear a relation to the channel’s popularity. Meanwhile, Sky has today published an open letter to Virgin Media in the national press outlining its stance.

In November, Burch said the company was planning “major operational changes” for the fourth quarter, which included merging three billing systems into one.

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