Polish cable and satellite group At Entertainment
Inc.'s losses rose in the first half of the year, as it ramped up investments for its
digital direct-to-home platform, which is set to launch Sept. 18.
In Securities and Exchange Commission filings made earlier
this month, the company said its cash at hand declined to $24 million as of June from $56
million at the same time last year. Its losses rose to $42.7 million in the first half of
the year, compared with $13.3 million in 1997.
The company also revealed that Wizja TV, At
Entertainment's digital DTH service, has long-term programming agreements that will
cost it $84.1 million over the next five years.
Since June 30, At Entertainment has also negotiated
additional contracts that require it to pay third-party content providers a total of $71.7
million over the next seven years. It must pay $1.6 million this year, with the rate
rising to $33.4 million by 2003.
At Entertainment raised additional funds through a $252
million junk-bond issue in July. The proceeds will help to fund the company's digital
Since "soft-launching" its digital DTH service
July 1, the company has taken orders for 8,600 decoders, the filings disclosed. The
channels are also available across At Entertainment's cable systems, which now have
871,000 subscribers and pass 1.5 million homes.
Its digital DTH rollout strategy calls for 500,000 decoder
boxes to be leased "at a price significantly decreased by promotional
incentives," which will cost "up to $200 million" to fund, the filings
said. Additionally, Wizja TV will have a $20 million promotional budget behind its
However, the company warned that it plans to raise its
monthly basic-tier subscription-cable fee twice over the next six months, and to charge
extra for Wizja TV digital-premium channels HBO Polska and Canal Plus. This is likely to
push churn levels up past their historical norm, the company said.