Virgin Media posts narrower loss for Q2

Virgin Media reported a narrower net loss for the second quarter, but also revealed it lost tens of thousands of customers due to a persistent dispute with British Sky Broadcasting Group, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Virgin Media, which delayed an auction for the entire business because of volatile debt markets, said that its net loss narrowed to 119 million pounds ($241.1 million) for the three months to June 30, from 195.8 million pounds ($398 million) in the corresponding three months a year ago.

Virgin said that it lost 70,300 cable and broadband customers on a net basis over the quarter, including 40,000 related to the dispute that resulted in Virgin customers losing access to BSkyB's basic channels airing popular programs such as 'Lost' and '24.'

The Associated Press report said revenue for the US-listed company rose to 995 million pounds ($2.02 billion), from 884.3 million pounds ($1.8 billion) a year ago. But that was still down on the 1.02 billion pounds ($2 billion) reached in the first quarter of 2007.

COO Neil Berkett played down the aftershocks of the BSkyB dispute, saying the company was 'very pleased' with the way Virgin had mitigated the loss of customers.

'We have absolutely weathered that storm,' he was quoted by the report as saying.

However, he acknowledged that a 1.4% decline in average revenue per user was largely because those customers deserting Virgin after the BSkyB dispute tended to be higher-paying ones.

Berkett said that the second quarter should be the worst in terms of the impact on customer additions, and predicted that Virgin's overall net customer additions should be positive by the end of the year, according to the report.