Zee Network limps along in Q3

Is Zee Telefilms' Ltd (ZTL) luck turning? The management must be praying that it will from hereon. The third quarter ended 31 December 2000 has been pretty bad for the firm. And Star Plus' shows are gathering in strength and Sony is itching to make a comeback and is planning to totally clean up the weekend with a roster of mouthwatering shows.

Zee TV on its part is gearing up to start airing five new series from next month and the buzz is that these are likely to soak up audiences. If they do, that will only add to Zee TV's bottomline in the last quarter of this year and the management's prayers could well be answered. If they don't well, chairman Subhash Chandra will have a tough ask dragging his company back up a steep hill.

On to its results now. First the nine month period ended 31 December 2000. The consolidated results of Zee Network (including other subsidiary companies) show that it posted a net profit of Rs 1.436 billion - up by only 4 per cent. The reason for the net profit growth slow down has been attributed to lower ad revenue in the third quarter due to severe competition from Star Plus'Kaun Banega Crorepati. Total revenues for the period have put up a good show at Rs 7.16 billion - up 24 per cent. A major contributor to this is other income at Rs 379 million which has shot up from Rs 98.6 million in the previous corresponding period. Subscription revenues are at Rs 1.55 billion (Rs 1.37 billion).

The Zee Network's consolidated advertising revenues are up only a point in the third quarter to Rs 1.87 billion - in earlier better climes they used to zip ahead at 25 per cent. Subscription revenues have moved ahead by 10 per cent to Rs 523 million from Rs 471.4 million. The total revenue for the quarter is at Rs 2.65 billion - up by 10 per cent.

A huge chunk of its total revenue has been contributed to by other income which rose to Rs 116 million from Rs 32.7 million in the previous corresponding quarter. Earning before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) is down 8 per cent to Rs 753 million for the quarter and PAT, went down by 26 per cent to Rs 470 million. 

For Zee Telefilms as a standalone entity, PAT is up 29 per cent to Rs 321 million on a 25% increased turnover of Rs 1.133 billion during the quarter. EBITDA is up 35% to Rs 467 million. Again, the growth in the total income as well as bottom line comes from other income which stood at Rs 101 million in the quarter ended December 31, 2000 compared with Rs 28 million in the quarter ended December 31, 1999.

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