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Virgin Media Says TV Losses Have Stemmed

U.K. cable operator

Virgin Media

, locked in a bitter retransmission-consent dispute with satellite-TV rival Sky, said Friday that it had a “better-than-expected TV-subscriber performance” in April and May and has a more hopeful outlook on the second quarter overall. Now it figures TV net additions to be roughly flat in the April-June period, not negative growth.

Virgin Media (the merged NTL and Telewest) credited “wide-ranging mitigating actions” and “reinvigorated communications and marketing” for stemming the losses. But the operator is forecasting telephone-customer losses in the quarter and “a return to subscriber growth” in the second half of the year.

Sky, part of the News Corp. empire, pulled basic entertainment channels such as Sky One and Sky News from the cable operator on March 1 in a fee dispute. Virgin Media recently absorbed some analyst stock downgrades because of the lingering loss of popular fare such as 24 and Lost.