By Daniel Hunter

It's not often we here the word "deficit" without hearing the phrase "long term economic plan" or a point-scoring argument over public sector borrowing between politicians.

But BT has announced that it is setting aside £2bn to start reducing its swelling pension deficit. The telecoms giant said it was part of a 16-year recovery plan.

The £2bn figure is actually less than it proposed in 2012, but the new recovery plan is over an extended period of time.

BT chief executive Gavin Patterson said it reflects "the strength and sustainability of our future cash flow generation".

BT's shares fell by more than 2% following the news, despite reporting a 12% rise in profits to £694m for the third quarter.

Mr Patterson said: "Openreach [BT's landline maintenance operation] achieved the highest growth in the number of landlines on record".

BT is expected to face a huge cost in the coming weeks to secure rights to broadcast Premier League football matches. In 2012, BT paid £738m for three seasons to broadcast 38 live matches on its new BT Sport channel.

The bidding process is already under way for the rights for the 2016-19 seasons and it is expected to be more expensive again.

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