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Print operations, new channels drag Zee Media’s Q1 showing
MUMBAI: With new channel launches and print operations (DNA) dragging its performance, Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL), erstwhile Zee News Ltd, took a hit on its operations and suffered a net loss on consolidated basis during the fiscal first quarter ended 30 June 2014.
The company posted a consolidated loss of Rs 15.61 crore ( Rs 156.1 million) in the first quarter. In the earlier-year period, ZMCL had reported consolidated net profit of Rs 5.03 crore (Rs 50.3 million).
However, the results are not comparable due to the merger of Essel Publisher Pvt Ltd (EPPL) with ZMCL. The print business, led by DNA, is loss-making.
ZMCL’s operating profit (EBITDA) stood at Rs 2.09 crore (Rs 20.9 million). Operating expenses as well as employee costs grew at a faster clip. Print business proved to be a big drag here. The segment generated revenues of Rs 29.59 crore (Rs 295.9 million) while incurring total operating expenses of Rs 40.72 crore (Rs 407.2 million), resulting in an operating loss of Rs 11.13 crore (Rs 111.3 mn) in the first quarter.
ZMCL’s consolidated total income in the June quarter was Rs 133.46 crore (Rs 1.33 billion). This was made up of advertising revenue of Rs 101.92 crore (Rs 1.02 billion) and subscription revenue of Rs 24.93 crore (Rs 249.3 million). Other sales and services stood at Rs 66.1 million.
The quarter witnessed the biggest event in the country, the general elections. Increased political spending, coupled with companies advertising on the news channels, aided in a stronger June quarter ad revenue growth.
During the quarter under review, ZMCL’s operating expenses grew 92.2 per cent to Rs 131.37 crore (Rs 1.31 billion). Costs of goods and operations expanded 161.4 per cent to Rs 32.96 crore (Rs 329.6 million) over the year-ago period due to additional spending on general election coverage and new channel launches. Employee benefit expenses rose 71.9 per cent to Rs 39.95 crore (Rs 399.5 million) and other expenses hardened to Rs 58.46 crore (Rs 584.6 million), up 79.8 per cent.
Higher depreciation and amortisation expenses during Q1FY15 at Rs 12.43 crore (Rs 124.3 million) as well as finance expenses of Rs 12.67 crore (Rs 126.7 million) provided a blow to its bottom line. Other income of Rs 89 lakh (Rs 8.9 million) could not prevent the company from suffering losses at the net level.
TV business gains ground
ZMCL’s TV business showed strong growth in an election quarter. Operating profit jumped to Rs 132.2 million, from Rs 93.1 million a year ago.
Ad revenue grew 51.2 per cent from year ago to Rs 80.01 crore (Rs 800.1 million) in the June quarter, which included both existing and new channels.
While existing channels garnered ad revenues of Rs 77.30 crore (Rs 773.0 million), new channels earned Rs 2.71 crore (Rs 27.1 million).
Subscription revenue for the quarter remained almost stagnant at Rs 21.01 crore (Rs 210.1 million), with little support coming from new channel launches.
ZMCL’s existing television channels include Zee News, Zee Business, Zee 24 Taas, Zee PHH, Zee Sangam, 24 Ghanta and Zee 24 Ghantalu (FY14). New channels launched during the period are Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee Marudhara and Zee Kalinga.
Print business a big drag
Led by English daily DNA, print business has been the new addition to the ZMCL bouquet. Operating loss from this segment stood at Rs 11.13 crore (Rs 111.3 million). Revenue from this segment stood at Rs 29.59 crore (Rs 295.9 million).
ZMCL merged with itself the print publication business of Diligent Media Corporation Ltd, one of the three subsidiaries of EPPL.
“ZMCL has enlarged its reach to over 147 million users across the country, again consolidating its position as the largest private news network. We have also continued to sharpen our focus on our online medium by ensuring seamless integration of content across platforms,” said ZMCL Group CEO of news cluster Bhaskar Das.
Shares of ZMCL closed at Rs 17.90 per scrip on the BSE, down 3.50 per cent from their previous close.