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Rigorous Fearless Independent

Market revenue growth was maintained at 1.6% in Q4, helped by strong underlying ARPU, mitigated by weak volume growth.

Lower price rises will likely slow market revenue growth by c.1-2ppts next quarter, with BT being slowed the most at c.5ppts.

The market is being hit by lacklustre demand, growing altnets and persistent price competition, with these factors likely to persist in the short term.

Abi Watson, senior research analyst at Enders Analysis, said the announcement was an “inevitability” as the Evening Standard was among the most exposed newspapers post-pandemic “given the fact that mobility, especially in London, has remained depressed thanks to work from home”. She noted that it was following other free titles that had reduced their frequency or stopped print editions such as Stylist and Time Out London.

Vodafone's promise of growth from FY26 has credibility given some headwinds specific to FY25 and some tailwinds emerging thereafter. 

In the meantime, the issues over the coming year extend beyond TV losses—with fixed in Germany proving difficult to turn around and the challenge from diminishing in-contract price increases is a significant one (for many telcos). 

Currency movements continue to absorb all notional growth (and some) and look set to continue to do so next year. With the company's FCF just half what it was two years ago, it is little wonder that Vodafone halved its dividend payout.

“The story of media before was that you had to be big to make money – that was the basic lesson of media,” says Douglas McCabe, chief executive of Enders Analysis.

“But actually, the story of the internet is that when companies or publishers do one single thing much more narrowly, but do it really well, they will tend to succeed.”

McCabe says a “recalibration” is likely, especially during the first year of a Labour government.

BT’s underlying performance was solid in Q4 FY24, with one-offs turning firm underlying growth into flat/negative reported revenue and EBITDA.

FY25 will be hit by much lower inflation-linked price increases driving a 3ppt revenue drag, but BT may still be able to grow revenue and EBITDA, helped by the unwinding of Q4 one-offs and lower inflationary cost pressures.

Investors were cheered by BT’s confidence in its longer-term outlook, which we share, with FTTP build, take-up and monetisation all going strong, and barely any improvement in underlying performance required in its retail divisions for it to double its cash flow by 2030.

The BBC plans to launch four new digital music stations as extensions of Radio 1, Radio 2 and Radio 3 and enhance 5 Sports Extra, all subject to regulatory approval.

Commercial radio is flourishing due to continuous innovation, while in stark contrast the BBC has experienced large audience losses, especially among the young.

The BBC should be able to launch new services— subject to competition assessments—while Ofcom should consider the impact of the total station regardless of whether delivery is broadcast or online.

Jamie MacEwan, senior media analyst at Enders Analysis, agreed: “It does look odd on the surface that Google would take this long to reassure the CMA on down-ranking.” But, he said, that could be because Google doesn’t want to close down its options on the way it rates the quality of a website — and those factors often have nothing to do with advertising. “Since some of the APIs cover user protections like fighting spam and fraud, Google might be concerned that, should Sandbox be the sole alternative to cookies in some cases, giving up down-ranking powers could be a problem down the line,” he said.