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DirecTV loses 15,000 subscribers in first quarter

DirecTV has reported one of the sharpest contractions ever seen in its Brazilian subscriber base, which totaled some 417,000 at the end of the first quarter of 2003 compared with 432,000 in December, for a loss of 15,000. The direct-to-home operator lost 25,000 subscribers in the 12 months of 2002.
In a press release containing numbers for all operations worldwide, the only reason offered for the contraction in Latin America is the general strike in Venezuela. DirecTV Latin America lost 54,000 customers throughout the region in the first quarter. According to DirecTV, the contraction in Brazil was due to a rising churn rate and falling sales.
It was a complicated period for the company, which filed for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of U.S. bankruptcy law. In Brazil, DirecTV faced an aggressive marketing campaign by Sky, including print ads that emblazoned ?the competition?s voluntary bankruptcy?. Sky also launched six new channels in the period and sponsored mass-audience shows such as Big Brother.
News Corp.?s agreement to acquire DirecTV from General Motors was announced in April and therefore can?t be blamed for the loss of subscribers. Sky?s Brazilian subscriber base expanded moderately in the period, ending March on 740,000.



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