Virgin Media 'mulling new Freeview channel'

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Virgin Media is understood to be looking to launch a new Virgin-branded entertainment channel on Freeview and cable as the group fights back against pay-TV rival BSkyB. The new channel—which might be called Virgin One—could replace Virgin Media TV's FTN channel on Freeview.

On Friday Virgin Media told the City that net subscriber additions in the second quarter of 2007 would be "roughly flat". That guidance revised its earlier forecast of negative net TV subscriber growth following the removal of Sky's basic channels from cable at the beginning of March after a pricing dispute.

Virgin Media said the better-than-expected performance during April and May was due "in significant part to the wide ranging mitigating actions we have taken". "We have also benefited from reinvigorated communications and marketing, growing customer recognition of the value of our video-on-demand content and the inherent appeal of the new Virgin Media brand.

"We expect that a series of new and highly competitive consumer propositions exploiting Virgin Media's unique quad-play capability will help to drive new fixed line telephony and overall subscriber additions," said Virgin Media's statement.

Last month Virgin Media announced it had 3.39m television subscribers at the end of March. Of those 3.08m were digital cable subscribers, up from 2.79m a year ago.

Virgin Media's dispute with Sky over channel pricing is being heard in the high court, while Ofcom is reviewing the UK's pay-TV sector in light of the row.

Lovelace Consulting  |  11.06.2007

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