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NDTV’s news biz reports third straight quarter of net loss

MUMBAI: New Delhi Television Ltd’s (NDTV) news business reported its third straight quarter of net loss in the current fiscal as revenue crawled while costs climbed in the three months ended 31 December 2013.

NDTV’s standalone net loss in the fiscal third quarter stood at Rs 1.66 crore (Rs 16.6 million) compared to net profit of Rs 2.30 crore (Rs 23 million) in the year-ago period.

The company, which runs English news channel NDTV 24X7, Hindi news channel NDTV India and English business news channel NDTV Profit, posted a mere 3.4 per cent increase to Rs 100.12 crore (Rs 1 billion) in income from operations in the third quarter of the fiscal.

However, higher employee costs and a considerable increase in marketing, distribution and promotional expenses dented both the operating profit and margin.

The company saw a decline in operating profit (EBITDA) during the quarter ended 31 December 2013. NDTV’s EBITDA slid 23.3 per cent to Rs 8.88 crore (Rs 88.8 million) while EBITDA margin eased to 8.9 per cent in Q3FY14 compared to 11.9 per cent recorded a year ago.

Although production costs declined 13.4 per cent to Rs 12.62 crore (Rs 126.2 million), the 26 per cent rise in marketing, distribution and promotional costs to Rs 20.02 crore (Rs 200.2 million), coupled with the 10.7-per cent increase in employee costs to Rs 32.64 crore (Rs 326.4 million), pushed operating expenses 6.2 per cent higher to Rs 103.02 crore (Rs 1.03 billion).

Interestingly, the picture looks different on a quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) basis. The third-quarter loss of Rs 1.66 crore (Rs 16.6 million) appeared tiny compared to net loss of Rs 16.52 crore (Rs 165.2 million) recorded in the September quarter of the current fiscal. In the June quarter, the standalone net loss was Rs 18.88 crore (Rs 188.8 million).

Meanwhile, on a consolidated basis, the company posted a net loss of Rs 10.43 crore (Rs 104.3 million) as against net profit of Rs 14.87 crore (Rs 148.7 million) in the year-ago period.

EBITDA stood at Rs 99 lakh (Rs 9.9 million) in the quarter vis-a-vis Rs 16.39 crore (Rs 163.9 million) in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

NDTV’s total consolidated income was marginally lower at Rs 127.43 crore (Rs 1.27 billion) from Rs 130.11 crore (Rs 1.30 billion) a year ago.

Expenses during the quarter were at Rs 133.17 crore (Rs 1.33 billion) compared to Rs 120.71 crore (Rs 1.20 billion) in the preceding year.

Meanwhile, NDTV’s board of directors approved the merger of NDTV Labs and NDTV Convergence, both step-down subsidiaries, with itself.

NDTV also said that its business news channel NDTV Profit would convert into NDTV Prime in the evening and on weekends from 17 March. During market hours, NDTV Profit would continue to offer business news and analysis like usual.

Also Read:

NDTV Profit to go hybrid from 17 March, NDTV Prime will take non-market time