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DirecTV Loss Narrows

Gross subscribers in the U.S. rise by 20% in the first quarter.

DirecTV

(DTV)

, the largest satellite television provider in the U.S., said its loss narrowed significantly from a year ago in its most recent quarter.

The

News Corp.

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-controlled company lost $41 million, or 3 cents a share, in the first quarter, compared with $639 million, or 46 cents a share, a year ago. That period included a big charge from the sale of a satellite system and a change in its method of accounting for subscriber acquisition.

"The strong demand for DirecTV U.S. service throughout the country continued in the first quarter, leading to first-quarter records for both gross and net subscriber additions of 1.14 million and 505,000, respectively," said Chase Carey, president and CEO.

Satellite providers continue to grab subscribers from cable television. Revenue at the El Segundo, Calif.,-based company this quarter grew 26% from a year ago to $3.2 billion.

Analysts polled by Thompson First Call had estimated a loss of 1 cent per share on revenue just over $3 billion.

In the U.S., gross subscribers rose by 1,137,000, or 20%, due in part to improved local and international programming, as well as improved distribution, mostly through the telephone-company partnerships, according to the company.

DirecTV shares closed Friday up 8 cents to $14.12.