ETC eyes more international markets

MUMBAI: Europe, South Africa, Malaysia and Singapore are next on the broadcasting calendar of ETC Networks for the current fiscal.

The company expects to add more revenue streams in 2002-03 following etc Punjabi's entry into the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand markets. The channel, whose USP is live telecast of the Gurbani from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, is also likely to turn into a pay channel shortly, according to the company's recently released annual report.

ETC Networks, following Zee Telefilms' taking up a stake in the company earlier this year, showed a decline in total revenues - from Rs 476 million in 2000 -01 to Rs 311.6 million in 2001-02, following the termination of news shows and marketing of South Indian programmes. The decision to discontinue broadcast of news and marketing of regional shows was taken on the grounds that 'they diluted channel branding, distracted audience attention, depressed TRPs and did not add value', thus saving the company an estimated Rs 145 million.

The company's programme library costs declined from Rs 50.1 million in 2000-01 to Rs 39 million in 2001-02 due to a stronger negotiating capability, says the report. ETC's programme library currently forms 13.75 per cent of its current assets.

While Zee's involvement in the areas of technology, marketing and distribution is expected to translate into deeper penetration and lower costs in the current fiscal, ETC itself has commissioned its studio and purchased programming equipment, in a bid to cut down on costs.

The switch from analog to digital made in August 2001 has led to savings of Rs 5.5 million per month, the report states. While employee costs declined from Rs 38.6 million to Rs 29.2 million from the previous year, programming and telecast costs also declined from 60 per cent of revenues in 2000-01 to 40 per cent in 2001-02.

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