New Zealand's Sky TV H1 profit up strongly

WELLINGTON Sun Feb 23, 2014 2:56pm EST

WELLINGTON Feb 24 (Reuters) - New Zealand pay television operator Sky Network TV Ltd reported on Monday a near 22 percent rise in its first half profit on increased added value income and lower programming costs.

The company, which has a near monopoly in pay television services, said net profit for the six months to Dec 31 was NZ$82.07 million ($67.9 million) compared with NZ$67.4 million a year ago.

Sky, a top-10 stock, declared an increase dividend of 14 cents a share compared with last year's 12 cents a share.

It said revenue was underpinned by a rise in the amount earned from its higher value services, with total revenue rising 2.9 percent, while the costs of programmes fell.

Sky said the churn rate -- a measure of disconnections -- was 13.3 percent from 14.6 percent a year ago.

Sky offers more than 100 TV and radio channels and also operates free-to-air channel Prime Television. It also has a joint venture service with the state owned Television New Zealand, Igloo, with a mix of free-to-air and pay content.

($1 = 1.2084 New Zealand dollars) (Gyles Beckford)