Results from Australia and the UK show the most profitable part of the media is the Pay TV business, with Austar reporting a solid rise in earnings and higher subscriber numbers, and BSkyB in London surprising with a sharp rise in profits and an even more surprising lift in subscriber numbers.

The two results also confirm evidence from the likes of NBC and Time Warner, which have reported solid improvements in Pay TV revenues and profits, And Disney, the world’s biggest media company, revealed this morning that while its profits fell 26% on a 7% fall in sales, revenues from its cable business only dropped 1% and earnings only dropped 8%.

BSkyB added 462,000 new customers in the period, its best year for new customers in five years, which brought its total subscriber base to 9.4m. The group also added 534,000 customers to its high definition Sky+HD package after it dropped the cost of the box by 66% in January. Half those 534,000 people signed up in the June quarter. Operating profit rose 12.3% to 813 million pounds.

In Australia, regional Pay TV operator Austar has lifted profit and subscriber numbers in the half, with most of the boost in new viewers coming in the second quarter. Austar lifted EBITDA 13% to $115 million from the previous corresponding period and reaffirmed its guidance of 10-15% growth in earnings for the December 2009 financial year.

Austar’s total TV subscribers increased by 8,449 to 728,719 in the first half of 2009 and will make more net profit than the entire Australian free to air TV industry in 2009.