Sky upbeat about financial performance despite Premier League costs

'‹Pay-TV giant Sky has seen its half-year earnings fall 9'‹ per cent'‹ after being hit by a big hike in the costs of broadcast rights to Premier League football matches.

Middlesbrough and Hull City have been promoted to the Premier League, which Sky broadcasts

The group reported underlying operating profits of £679​m for the six months to December 31, following a £314​m rise in Premier League costs.

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Jeremy Darroch, group chief executive of Sky, said: "In a year in which we are absorbing significantly higher programming costs, as a result of the step up in Premier League costs, our financial performance has been good."

Sky has accepted an £11.7​bn takeover offer from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, which already owns 39​ per cent​ of the company and bid to buy the remaining 61​ per cent​ of the business late last year.

Fox needs shareholder approval and the green light from regulators in both the UK and Europe for the offer, which comes five years after the media tycoon's last tilt at taking full control of the business through News Corporation.