Cash flow before interest and taxes 2 increased 21% to $957 million and free cash flow 3 increased 36% to $319 million compared to the third quarter of 2011 primarily due to lower capital expenditures and the higher OPBDA, partially offset by lower cash generated from working capital mostly due to the timing of receivables at DIRECTV U.S. Capital expenditures decreased principally due to a reduction in leased equipment and satellite payments at DIRECTV U.S. and DTVLA. Free cash flow was also impacted by higher net interest payments primarily due to an increase in average net debt balances. Also during the quarter but not included in free cash flow was cash paid for share repurchases of $1.22 billion . In September 2012, DIRECTV U.S. issued £750 million (~$1.2 billion) principal amount of 4.375% Senior Notes due 2029 and also entered into two senior unsecured revolving credit agreements - a $1.0 billion 3.5 year credit facility and a $1.5 billion 5 year credit facility - to replace a $2.0 billion credit agreement that was terminated during the month. Both were undrawn as of the end of the quarter.
Year to Date Review
DIRECTV's revenues for the first nine months of 2012 of $21.69 billion increased 10% principally due to subscriber growth over the last year at DTVLA and DIRECTV U.S., as well as higher ARPU at DIRECTV U.S. DIRECTV's year to date OPBDA increased 8% to $5.60 billion and operating profit increased 11% to $3.79 billion compared with the same period of 2011. OPBDA margin declined in the period primarily due to increased customer service, upgrade and retention and subscriber acquisition costs at DTVLA. Also in the period, DIRECTV U.S. OPBDA and operating profit margins were slightly higher as lower subscriber acquisition costs and relatively unchanged customer service spending was mostly offset by higher programming costs. Operating profit margin was also favorably impacted by lower depreciation expense at DIRECTV U.S. primarily driven by an increase in the estimated depreciable life of HD set-top boxes from three years to four years implemented in July 2011.
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