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March 15, 2010

i-Cable relying on soccer for rebound

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by Rapid TV News

Website: Rapid TV News

i-Cable, the company which owns and operates the Hong Kong Cable platform, says that pay-TV revenues bottomed out in mid-2009 and are now “on a course of firm rebound” ahead of the forthcoming soccer World Cup and a new English Premier League season.

Revenues for the year ended Dec 31 2009 decreased by 16% from 2008’s HK$2,080 million to HK$1,754 million (US$226 million).

Group loss attributable to shareholders amounted to HK$341 million, considerably less than the HK$110 million the previous year.

With cost controls, operating costs decreased by 17% to HK$1,799 million. Programming costs decreased 8% to HK$819 million.

Pay-TV subscribers rose 9% to end the year at over 1 million.

And while revenues at the pay-TV unit of the company decreased 9% to HK$1,228 million, operating costs fell 6% to HK$1,273 million.

Operating loss was HK$45 million, compared with a 2008 operating profit of HK$6 million.

I-Cable’s statement said: “Despite the improvement in economic sentiment, the operating environment for the Group’s core businesses remained challenging as the competition began to resort to pricing to protect market share, particularly towards the end of the year.

“Instead of responding on price, the Group invested to strengthen its programming offer in the Pay TV sector and in a technology upgrade in the Broadband sector.

“The former has already started to pay back in the form of subscriber and revenue growth.

“The latter is at an early stage of deployment but is expected to significantly strengthen our competitiveness in 2010.”

Hong Kong Cable has also applied for a free TV licence from the Hong Kong government.

That move, said the company was “a bid to further exploit the Group’s content and distribution advantage”.

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