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NDTV pulls the curtain down on NDTV Profit ahead of Raghav Bahl’s channel launch

MUMBAI: NDTV’s business news channel has always been a sore point in Dr Prannoy Roy’s media empire. Now it will get the axe and hope to come back at a more appropriate time when NDTV Ltd’s financial health betters.

NDTV Profit will go off-air from 5 June while the business programming will transfer to the general news channel NDTV 24×7. Prime, which had technology, infotainment, entertainment and other strands of content, will continue as a channel.

In March 2014, business news channel NDTV Profit turned into a hybrid channel. While business news remained the core DNA of the channel, new shows were aired for non-market times. As part of that strategy, NDTV Profit converted into NDTV Prime in the evening and on weekends. The expectation was that the channel would turn profitable.

That model hasn’t worked. The business news channel space has been consolidated largely between CNBC-TV18 and ET Now. With Raghav Bahl’s Bloomberg Quint readying to launch in the next few months, NDTV has decided to vacate the space.

In the new plan, the hybrid model will be scrapped, business news will move out, and what will remain is the other strands of content. NDTV Profit/Prime will now be NDTV Prime.

“NDTV has decided to transfer its business programming from Profit to regular business and finance segments on NDTV 24×7. This will mean suspending the current trading hours programming on Profit while Prime will continue as a channel,” the company said.

“For now, there will be high quality business and finance segments on NDTV 24×7 which will enhance viewer experience on NDTV 24×7 during the daytime trading hours,” the company added.

Though NDTV said that it does not rule out reviving a business channel when the circumstances are appropriate, it looks highly unlikely unless the company sees a massive turnaround.

In FY17, NDTV’s consolidated net loss widened to Rs 68.79 crore from Rs 54.82 crore a year ago. Revenue declined to Rs 522.67 crore from Rs 565.76 crore. Besides news, the company runs a lifestyle channel called NDTV Good Times.

NDTV’s standalone net loss widened to Rs 53.35 crore in FY17 from Rs 21.62 crore a year ago. Revenue from operations fell to Rs 381.73 crore from Rs 428.7 crore.

NDTV Profit was the second channel in the business news genre but its profitability took a hit with increasing competition from new channels and increasing costs. After the launch of ET Now, things did not turn any better for NDTV Profit.

In fact, the company had planned to sell a stake in the channel in 2012. NDTV had said it was open to selling a stake in NDTV Profit to a strategic investor to streamline its financial resources and expand in a tough economic environment. The company had also mandated Ernst & Young to restructure operations and propose cost-cutting measures.

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