ABP News Network’s ABP Ananda, ABP Majha to go FTA in new MRP regime

MUMBAI: The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) new regulatory framework is forcing many channels to go free to air (FTA). The latest to join the FTA bandwagon is ABP News Network which will be converting its pay channels ABP Ananda and ABP Majha to FTA from 8th February.

Following the move, all four ABP News Network channels will become FTA. ABP News and ABP Asmita are already FTA channels.

“With effect from February 8, 2019, the nature of ABP Channels namely, ABP Ananda and ABP Majha, will be converted to free to air,” ABP News Network has informed the consumers.

With the new regulatory framework kicking in from 29th December 2018, many TV channels, particularly those that are not part of the bigger networks, are grappling with the issue of whether to remain pay or go FTA.

For a news channel, going FTA will at least ensure that the reach does not get impacted and therefore the ad revenue will also get protected. By going pay, these channels run the risk of exposing themselves to the unpredictability of the consumers.

Earlier, English business news channel BTVI had gone FTA. Sun TV Network will also launch Sun Bangla and Sun Marathi as FTA channels.

Conversely, leading pay-TV broadcasters have converted their FTA channels to pay since the new regime doesn’t allow bundling of FTA and pay channels.

The new regime mandates pay broadcasters to declare the MRP and bouquet rates of their channels. These will remain same across the distribution platforms to ensure a level playing field.

The customer will have the choice to either pick channels on a la carte basis or in bouquet form. They can also opt for bouquets prepared by their respective DPOs.

As reported earlier by TelevisionPost.com, news broadcaster ABP News Network’s net profit for the fiscal ended 31st March 2018 has gone up 61% due to a strong performance by Hindi and Bengali news channels ABP News and ABP Ananda.

The company’s net profit has jumped to Rs 48.99 crore in FY18 from Rs 30.36 crore in the year ago period. The profit before interest lease depreciation and tax (PBILDT) was up at Rs 95.56 crore from Rs 79.77 crore.

The PBILDT margin witnessed improvement in FY18 on account of increase in ad rates in ABP News and ABP Ananda on account of their established position in their respective genres supported by a marginal reduction in operating losses incurred in new ventures.

Higher PBILDT level primarily coupled with a decline in the capital charge led to an improvement in the PAT margin in FY18. The cash accruals of the company remained satisfactory at Rs 66 crore vis-à-vis term debt repayment obligation of Rs 11.25 crore in FY18.

With an improvement in the profitability level of the company, the net-worth position of the company recovered. Strong cash-flow from established channels (ABP News and ABP Ananda) supported the loss from newer ventures, repayment of term debt and other obligation in FY18 and Q1FY19.

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