Publications

Format: Jun 2016
Sector(s) Datesort ascending
OFT recommendations and CRR - little comfort for ITV

The OFT has delivered its verdict on ITV’s request for a review and modification of the CRR remedy that the Competition Commission imposed as a condition of the Carlton/Granada merger in 2003

In delivering its verdict, the OFT has chosen to sit on the fence. After recognising both the merits of the ITV case and the continuing concerns of the advertising community it reiterated earlier recommendations for minor changes in keeping with the times, but otherwise left it to the CC to decide what changes to make

The complexity of the CRR remedy and the polarised views of parties involved, as well as the burden of decision-making transferred to the CC, merely confirm the view that any significant modification to CRR will be a long time in coming, and almost certainly long after the start of the 2010 trading season, as previously suggested by ITV

  • ITV
Media, TV 27 May 2009
Will consumers pay for online news?

Newspaper publishers are about to enter a series of ‘online payment’ trials to help bolster disappointing online advertising performance that alone will be unable to support full scale newsrooms

Publishers are on the back foot, however: they have been giving away their content for free for almost a decade, and their core content does not have the unequivocal unique attributes of a football match, a movie or a pop song

While there are a variety of options for management to explore, in aggregate they will never match the print model, and so news is destined to shrink as a commercial enterprise for newspaper publishers

Media, Press, Internet 25 May 2009
Cable & Wireless full year results to March 2009: strong cost control

The UK and international businesses (now ‘Worldwide’ and ‘CWI’) are both continuing to perform well, despite weak revenue growth, thanks to strong cost control. Worldwide is now generating cash organically for the first time in memory

Performance at the newly-acquired Thus has been slightly below expectations, mostly due to increased customer churn. The sale of the ‘mid-market’ part of the business is a possibility

The market was disappointed by guidance for the new financial year. In our view it is both acceptable and achievable

  • Cable & Wireless
Telecoms, Mobile, Fixed Line, Non-UK Telecoms 20 May 2009
Vodafone 2008/09 full year results: economy and competition start to hurt

 

Vodafone’s European revenue growth dipped sharply in the March 2009 quarter to -3.3% from -1.4% in the previous quarter, due to a combination of recessionary impact and continuing underperformance of the market

EBITDA margins also declined by 2ppts, with falling handset subsidies more than compensated for by a sharp rise in general operating expenses, despite cost cutting efforts

Implied guidance for Vodafone Europe in 2009/10 of an organic 4-5% drop in revenue and 2ppt dip in EBITDA margin is bleak but realistic, with even these figures at risk if either the economy does not start to recover or the company cannot keep general operating expenses flat

 

  • Vodafone
Mobile, Telecoms 19 May 2009
BT FY 2008-09 Q4 results: clearing the decks

BT’s Q4 results contained a bombshell £1.3 billion write-down at Global Services to correct previous under-reporting of costs on two contracts, believed to be with the NHS and Reuters. Underlying EBITDA at Global Services also dropped sharply for the second quarter running

Annual pension contributions are to increase sharply, as expected, albeit to a level sustainable by the business. Performance at other divisions continues to be reasonable, given the economic environment

The company’s plans to cut costs have some credibility, but are expensive and will take time to implement. There is little prospect of meaningful recovery in cash flow until 2010

  • BT
Telecoms, Fixed Line, Non-UK Telecoms 16 May 2009
ITV Q1 2009 trading statement: hard times

ITV plc outperformance in a TV advertising market that is expected to fall by 17% in H1 2009 (ITV Family down 16%) may simply reflect frontloading of budgets, with audience trends suggesting that ITV plc will be slightly down on the market average across the full year

In the continuing absence of voluntary cooperation between ISPs and rights holders, yet another consultation is being launched, but this time, the pressure on ISPs is being increased by the proposal to give Ofcom powers to reduce unlawful file-sharing, including “technical measures” (e.g. traffic shaping) if needed

With another lengthy consultation process ahead, and then a legislative phase, it is too early to judge the commercial implications on the ISPs or whether the creative industries will claw back sales from reduced unlawful file-sharing

  • ITV
Media 14 May 2009
Gloomy trading updates on local newspapers

Gloomy trading updates from both Johnston Press and Trinity Mirror, and news that Johnston has abandoned its sale of Irish titles, have choked the optimism that swelled both publishers’ valuations during the bull weeks of early Q2 2009

Some comfort was taken from the nascent ‘advertising stability’ that has left recruitment and property categories down about 50% year on year. However, the potential for spend levels on recruitment and property to stay depressed, even when the economy recovers as the structural shift to online continues, could be devastating to the economics of publishing

Circulation revenues are also appearing vulnerable, as print consumption decline appears to be accelerating, pushing total publisher revenues into a faster downward spiral

Media, Press 13 May 2009
Carphone Warehouse acquisition of Tiscali UK: The Italian Job

Carphone Warehouse’s acquisition of Tiscali UK makes TalkTalk Group the second largest UK ISP and the largest in terms of residential broadband subscribers, just as market growth begins to stall

The company’s synergy target looks readily achievable, although integration challenges are significant and could make the acquired customer base difficult to stabilise

Nonetheless, TalkTalk Group now seems set to dominate the ‘value’ end of the UK residential telecoms market

  • TalkTalk
  • Carphone Warehouse
Telecoms, Fixed Line 9 May 2009
Channel Four 2008 annual report: bridging the funding gap

Channel 4 broke even in 2008 despite a 5% fall in total TV NAR (net advertising revenues), through a combination of outperforming the market and £25 million in programme budget cuts. Its annual report also underlined its credentials as the alternative PSB voice, based on market research conducted over the year

The crunch time is likely to come in 2009 and 2010. Although financially better placed in many ways than ITV, and more flexible over committed programme spend, the recession threatens Channel 4 with a cumulative annual net deficit of around £150 million in 2010 without further action

Financial pressures facing Channel 4 highlight the need for urgent government action, in the absence of which much depends on the outcome of Virgin Media’s efforts to sell its content assets and the ultimate willingness of BBC Worldwide to engage in a JV with Channel 4. Consolidation would help even if it did not solve all of Channel 4’s pressing financial concerns

  • Channel 4
Media, TV 6 May 2009
Virgin Media Q1 2009 results: awaiting impact of price changes

VMed’s Q1 results were again mixed, with declining group revenue and OCF margin but improving performance at Virgin Mobile and continuing strength in TV

The core cable business is facing a return to negative customer growth due to a combination of seasonality and stalling demand for broadband

But de facto price increases in broadband, TV and mobile should boost financial performance from the autumn; we expect this to be combined with reduced opex to generate significant cash flow growth from 2010

  • Virgin Media
TV, Media, Telecoms, Fixed Line 4 May 2009
Sky FY 2009 Q3 results: recession-resistant

Another strong quarter of pay-TV subscriber growth, marked by record Sky+ HD sales, indicated continued resistance to recessionary pressures, supported by flat costs other than those associated with accelerated HD take-up

Results for the telecoms business again displayed strong volume growth in an increasingly difficult market. But original guidance for broadband subscribers, breakeven and standalone IRR looks challenging

Although the recession may yet take its toll on subscriber growth, the final outcome could work to Sky’s advantage due to the severe revenue losses being experienced by the free-to-air advertising sector. Constraints imposed by regulatory intervention remain a possibility, but unlikely to make a material difference over the next two to three years

  • Sky
TV, Media, Telecoms, Fixed Line 29 April 2009
Q1 2009 GDP and forecasts for 2009 and 2010

As the UK recession deepens, economic factors are now dominant in the revenue growth of ad-supported media industries, as well as mobile and, to a lesser extent, fixed line telecoms industries – our subscribers will start receiving our informed research on economic issues

Faster GDP decline in Q1 2009 than in Q4 2008 indicates that the economy has yet to reach a bottom – expect downgrading of the Government, Bank of England and independent forecasts for 2009 GDP growth, with a 5% decline at the low end of the range

Our central case continues to be of a decline of GDP in 2009 of over 5% consistent with an 8% peak-to-trough decline for GDP, with a risk of deflation in the medium term

 

Media 27 April 2009
Google UK Q1 results: feeling the squeeze

Google UK delivered solid performance in Q1, with gross revenues up about 8% YoY to £440 million; however, the huge growth of previous years has ended, due to a combination of recession and growing maturity in search

Key verticals (finance and travel) are being impacted by the downturn, but Google should continue to benefit from the secular shift of advertising to online and increasing advertiser focus on measureable ROI

We now estimate that Google’s UK gross revenues will rise by 4% this year to £1.66 billion, supported by volume growth in search, with little contribution from display and mobile still firmly rooted in the experimental phase

  • Google
Internet, Media 25 April 2009
Carphone Warehouse March quarter trading update and analyst day

In fixed line, net broadband additions for the quarter were strong at TalkTalk given a tough market, but remained firmly negative at AOL UK

We are sceptical of new guidance for fixed line for the year to March 2010, but still expect reasonable performance, given the slowdown in broadband market growth

The distribution business continued to defy the consumer downturn in volume terms, with 12% connections growth and a solid outlook for next year, although the pain is being felt at the margin level

  • TalkTalk
  • Carphone Warehouse
Telecoms, Fixed Line 22 April 2009
Digital Britain summit: talk is cheap

Friday’s Digital Britain summit generated more heat than light but nonetheless provided a useful forum for the articulation of the views of government and some other key players

There appears to remain a significant gap between government aspirations for a high speed broadband Britain and the commercial realities. All eyes are now on Wednesday’s Budget to see the extent to which the government is prepared to put its money where its mouth is

In online content, achieving an outcome that reduces piracy, avoids oligopoly and encourages continued innovation in content creation remains the key challenge for both industry and government

Telecoms, Media, Fixed Line 19 April 2009
Online classifieds: signs of recession

 

Confirmation of robust UK online classified growth in 2008 from IAB/PwC should not be interpreted as ‘business as usual’, with signs of severe turbulence emerging in the final months of the year for pro-cyclical activities like recruitment and property

Even online giants such as AutoTrader, Rightmove and Jobsite will be unable to offset the underlying collapse in their respective marketplaces in 2009, and we anticipate low levels of activity to persist into 2010 and potentially beyond

However, if the short-term prospects for online classifieds are less robust than many have assumed, the long-term consequences of the trends in classified will be devastating for local newspapers, with the shift in marketplace activities to national digital brands from the local press accelerating through the recession

 

Internet, Media 7 April 2009
UK pay-TV in 2009: recession and competition concerns

Leading pay-TV operators Sky and Virgin Media (VMed) have shown little sign of recessionary damage in 2008 and the outlook for Q1 2009 remains positive. Difficulties are apparent at complementary pay-TV service provider Setanta

Ofcom’s pay-TV investigation enters its final stages in 2009. Ofcom faces a formidable challenge to devise a workable wholesale must-offer solution for premium film and sports content that fosters competition across all platforms

With prospects fading fast of a VMed sale of its UKTV and possibly VMTV assets to a BBCW/Channel 4 joint venture, Discovery looks an increasingly suitable candidate, as competition concerns could arise if Sky was the chosen partner

  • Virgin Media
  • Sky
Media, TV 7 April 2009
NGA in Italy

This report concludes our series of country reports (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden) on next generation access on the Continent

Although Italy boasts the largest FTTH network in Europe, it is the least propitious market for new NGA plans among those we have surveyed. Telecom Italia has no specific plans for NGA, precluded by its level of indebtedness, and neither does any of the altnets

Because Italy does not want to be ‘left behind’ on NGA, a public/private partnership dedicated to building local FTTH networks for wholesaling to service providers is likely to be created in the near future. Its initial focus is likely to be denser city centres, where broadband penetration is high, and pockets of demand for FTTH-based applications can be located

Fixed Line, Telecoms, Non-UK Telecoms 4 April 2009
Iliad’s 2008 results and prospects

Iliad, now France’s number two broadband provider, will increase total revenues by 10% per year by 2012, mainly by growing its subscriber base (rather than ARPU) in a market however rapidly reaching maturity

Excluding mobile, the EBITDA margin could rise by five percentage points to 40% in 2012, but a mobile launch in 2011 would pare the margin down to 32%

Funding both the fibre-to-the-home and the mobile network capex commitments could compress Iliad’s cumulative cash flow to just €168 million during 2009-2012, thus requiring new financing or a minority partner in the mobile venture

  • Iliad
Telecoms, Mobile, Fixed Line, Non-UK Telecoms 31 March 2009
Recession hits UK internet advertising

IAB/PwC released figures for 2008 showing that annual spending on internet advertising rose 19.1% to £3.35 billion, accounting for close to 20% of total UK advertising, far higher than in any other major market

The recession started to bite in H2 2008. As budgets are cut, display has been hit harder than search and classified, as a rising share of inventory (almost 50%) is sold by ad networks for discounted CPMs or on a performance-basis

Our revised forecast for internet advertising is for zero growth in 2009, with a low single digit rise in paid search offset by falls in display and classified

  • Google
Media, Internet 30 March 2009

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