Telenor’s Higher Priced Services Offset Subscriber Decline

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PARIS — Norway’s Telenor Satellite Broadcasting on July 27 reported increased revenue for the three months ending June 30 compared to the previous quarter despite fewer direct-to-home satellite television viewers, saying sales of higher priced multiroom and high-definition subscriptions have offset subscriber erosion.

Oslo-based Telenor said revenue for the three months ending June 30 was 262 million Norwegian kroner ($42 million), which is 5.6 percent higher than revenue for the previous three months and up 25 percent compared to the same three-month period in 2008.

EBITDA, or earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was 70 percent of revenue, compared to 71 percent in the previous quarter.

Telenor operates four satellites, including the Intelsat 10-02 spacecraft owned jointly with Intelsat and the aging Thor 2 satellite that has been leased to SES Sirius of Sweden. Telenor expects to launch the Thor 6 spacecraft aboard a European Ariane 5 rocket late this year.

Telenor has been increasing its penetration of the Central and Eastern European market from its core 1 degree west orbital slot, but the Nordic countries remain the company’s core market. With that market nearing saturation for digital television, Telenor has been seeing its direct-to-home customer base in the Nordic region erode in the past year.

The effect on revenue has been minimized by subscriptions for multiroom set-top boxes and for high-definition programming, both of which carry higher priced subscription costs. Telenor said average revenue from its television customers has increased in the Nordic countries even as the number of subscribers has dropped by 42,000, to 1.08 million, in the past year.

Telenor said the rate of churn — customer turnover — remains low in Norway and Sweden, but has been a problem in Denmark.