All eyes on BT's pay-TV venture

BT logoBT's imminent move into Premier League broadcasting is expected to take centre stage when it unveils fourth quarter and full-year results on Friday.

The telecoms giant has been engaged in a war of words with BSkyB since landing a three-year deal to show 38 games a season from this summer. But it will have to overcome scepticism in the City over whether it can do better than other pretenders to the pay-TV crown such as ESPN and Setanta.
An announcement on how customers will be able to pay for and access the new TV service looks imminent, which executives hope will put paid to the doubters.

Ahead of BT's results, analysts expect a 2.8% fall in underlying revenues for the three months to the end of March, with an annual fall of 3.9%. On a headline basis, total revenues for the quarter are predicted to drop 4.8% to £4.6 billion on a like-for-like basis against a year earlier. Profits before tax are expected to rise again, from £690 million to £733 million in the fourth quarter, with the full-year figure up from £2.4 billion to £2.6 billion.

Meanwhile, Britons fleeing the UK's weather misery should give a boost to Thomson Holidays owner TUI Travel when it reports half-year trading on Friday. TUI recently said summer bookings were up by 9%, despite a 4% increase in its average summer prices, as holidaymakers look to avoid another summer washout.

Freezing weather and the timing of Easter are also expected to have played into TUI's hands during the winter, traditionally a loss-making period for tour operators. The group, which also owns brands including First Choice, Gulliver Travel and, is expected to narrow losses in the six months to the end of March.

And insurer Aviva will be hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's pay humiliation but could face anger over slashed dividends at its annual shareholder meeting on Thursday.

The group faces shareholders for the first time since former chief executive Andrew Moss was ousted after the bulk of investors voted down a controversial pay deal - a key moment in the so-called "shareholder spring".

Aviva admitted it "got it wrong" on pay and responded by slashing directors' pay by a third in 2012 to a total £4.8 million, down from £7.3 million a year earlier. But the Local Authority Pension Fund Forum has urged its members to vote down Aviva's latest pay deal over possible high rewards in future.

It said: "The Forum acknowledges changes that have been made by the company, but believes total remuneration could be higher in future as the bonus and long-term incentive plans allow a grant of five times salary at the maximum level."

© 2013 Press Association
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