TV18 eases financial pain in Q3, eyes turnaround

MUMBAI: Television18 has eased its financial pain in the fiscal third-quarter due to some upswing in revenues while costs are kept under strict control.

For the three months ended December, TV18 has posted a standalone net loss (after tax and minority interest, before ESOP charge out) of Rs 146.64 million, narrowing it from Rs 246.95 million in the previous quarter.

The company, which operates leading business news channels CNBC TV18 and CNBC Awaaz, had posted a net profit of Rs 72.71 million in the earlier year.

Revenue from news operations at Rs 674.02 million stands 9.69 per cent higher than the year-ago period. For the trailing quarter, TV18's standalone revenue was at Rs 647.43 million.

"The fourth quarter revenue should be higher than the trailing quarter due to the Budget. When the market fully recovers, TV18 should be in a position to grab the lion's share of the growth as it has managed to protect its ratings share even after the launch of ET Now," says a media analyst who tracks the news broadcasting business.

Operating expenses for the quarter stood at Rs 469.59 million (from Rs 469.09 million a year ago). We have brought down the operating cost to Rs 450-460 million. "We do not expect that to increase. We are watching that number like a hawk," TV18 managing director Raghav Bahl told analysts.

TV18 also improved its operating margins to 30.33 per cent from prior year’s 23.66 per cent. The company said that the “high operating margins” are likely to be maintained.

During the quarter, TV18 cut 12 per cent of its permanent staff and merged the broadcast operations of its two business news channels in a bid to take corrective measures at a time when the ad market was going through a slump. The company has taken a one time restructuring charge Of Rs 45 million on account of rationalisation of its workforce.

On a consolidated basis, TV18, which also includes financials of Web18, Infomedia18 and Newswire18, has posted a net loss (after tax and minority interest, before ESOP charge out) of Rs 373.03 million. For the same quarter of the previous year, the net loss stood at Rs 306.03 million.

Revenue from consolidated operations fell marginally to Rs 1.29 billion compared to Rs 1.30 billion a year ago. Expenses stood at Rs 1.16 billion, from Rs 1.39 billion in the earlier year.

“We are happy to share that we continue to build on the turnaround in operations that started a couple of quarters back. Business news channels have returned to healthy operating margins along with drastically reducing net losses. Web18 revenues are showing strong traction as we endeavour to keep costs under control. EBITDA break-even should be achieved shortly. Newswire18 continues to strengthen revenues and operating margins. Informedia18 revenues should start growing in forthcoming quarters as new launches are being well received by customers,” says Bahl.

Web18, the subsidiary that houses all the websites of the group, has curtailed its net loss to Rs 123.25 million, as against Rs 214.08 million a year ago. Revenue from operations grew 12.56 per cent to Rs 196.93 million, while expenses dropped 35.62 per cent to Rs 224.90 million in the quarter.

In Infomedia18, the net loss for the quarter stood at Rs 92.32 million, down from Rs 103.75 million in the corresponding quarter of FY ’09. Revenue, however, decreased to Rs 334.35 million from Rs 450.86 million, while expenses were at Rs 384.37 million, down from Rs 493.71 million a year ago.

In Newswire18, revenue rose to Rs 83.77 million, from Rs 64.63 million a year ago. Net loss has narrowed to Rs 9.82 million compared to Rs 31.91 million in the third quarter of FY'09.

TV18 expects to return to black soon as the market recovers. The company plans to bring down its high interest payout by reducing the net debt from Rs 6 billion to Rs 2 billion in FY'11.

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