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HT Media Q3 ad revenue drops 5.7% due to demonetisation

MUMBAI: HT Media, which is on a cost-correction course, has seen its advertising wallet punctured in the fiscal third quarter by the government’s move to demonetise higher currency notes that slowed down the economy despite a buoyant festive season.

HT Media, publisher of the Hindustan Times and Mint newspapers, posted a 5.7% fall in advertising revenue to Rs 511.4 crore (Rs 5.11 billion) for the quarter ended 31 December 2016 comp ared to Rs 542.1 crore a year ago.

In the previous quarter, advertising revenue de-grew 2% to Rs 466 crore from Rs 475.5 crore primarily due to a drop in print ad revenues.

Subscription revenue during the quarter grew 2.1% to Rs 78.6 crore from Rs 76.9 crore. Other income jumped 27% to Rs 114.8 crore from Rs 90.4 crore.

Total revenue dropped 0.7% to Rs 704.8 crore as against Rs 709.5 crore.

Earlier, Hindustan Times had shut down a few editions and laid off several staff. Mint had also let go some of its staff.

The fall in ad revenue notwithstanding, the company saw its net profit jump 24.8% to Rs 106.4 crore from Rs 85.2 crore. PAT margin improved to 15% during the quarter compared to 12% a year ago.

EBITDA grew 10.5% to Rs 165.3 crore from Rs 149.6 crore. EBITDA margin stood at 23.5% compared to 21.1% in the earlier year.

De-growth in print ad revenue was partially offset by growth in radio ad revenue. Led by new radio station launches, revenue from FM radio segment zoomed 39.4% to Rs 44.9 crore compared to 32.3 crore in the same period last year. Radio EBITDA stood at Rs 13.2 crore with margins at 29.3% vs 27.2% during the same period last year.

The company’s revenue from digital business also fell 3% to Rs 37.1 crore from Rs 38.2 crore in the same quarter last year. Shine.com and digital content registered healthy revenue growth of 29% and 21%, respectively, in Q3’FY17 compared to same period last year. HT Mobile Solutions witnessed a soft quarter registering revenue de-growth of 39% in Q3 FY17 vs same period last year.

HT Media chairperson and editorial director Shobhana Bhartia said, “Media spending is a forerunner of consumer, business and investor sentiment. While the quarter started on a good note with the festival season, the subsequent short-term economic dip affected sentiment and media spends, which impacted advertising revenue for our English and Hindi print businesses. The Hindi print business was also weighed down by the Bihar election-related advertising spends in last year’s base.

“Radio continues to do well for us and we are seeing good traction for our Phase III stations. We continue to hone our digital strategy and are aligning the organisation to leverage our considerable strengths in traditional media and our brands in the digital world. We are also constantly challenging ourselves to innovate and do things efficiently with leaner cost structures. This should bear fruits in the coming quarters and further help us deliver on our promise to create value for the shareholders.”