Television

Zee Telefilms' Q1 consolidated net slips 28% at Rs 562 million

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MUMBAI: Zee Telefilms has posted a 27.8 per cent fall in consolidated net profit at Rs 562 million for the first quarter ended 30 June, 2006, as against Rs 779 million in the corresponding period last fiscal

Total income, however, rose 24 per cent to Rs 3.884 billion, up from Rs 3.131 billion.

The consolidated operating profit stood at Rs 726 million, after factoring in initial investments in new activities viz. Zee Telugu, Zee Smile, Zee Sports and others, amounting to Rs 571 million (14.7 per cent of consolidated revenues). As a result, consolidated operating profits of continuing businesses were Rs 1.297 billion. These are higher by 8.4 per cent as compared to the corresponding quarter last year.

"The growth rate is subdued mainly due to investments in programming and marketing focused on long-term buildup of mainline channels. Profit before tax for the first quarter of the fiscal 2007 was Rs 672 million while net profit was Rs 562 million," Zee said in an official release.

On a standalone basis, Zee Telefilms has posted a 50.8 per cent fall in net profit to Rs 156 million for the quarter ended 30 June, 2006, as compared to Rs 306.80 million for the corresponding period last year. Total income has increased to Rs 2.440 billion for the quarter ended 30 Jun, 2006, up from Rs 1.777 billion for the corresponding period last year.

Commenting on the results, ZTL chairman Subhash Chandra said, ?We are pleased to report the strong recovery in our market position and continuing uptrend in ratings on the flagship channel. The performance reflects our success in delivering superior content to viewers and stronger relationship with our consumers.? ?We are also happy about some recent developments relating to our business. The Delhi High Court has ordered the Union Government to issue a revised notification for implementation of CAS in the notified areas of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata by 31 December, 2006. This will additionally help in bringing about addressability on cable. On DTH, DishTV enhanced its offering from June when The OneAlliance bouquet was also made available to subscribers. Also, the TDSAT order has directed Star to provide their content to DishTV within 15 days. All these have extremely positive and long term impact on our business," Chandra added.

Commenting on the restructuring exercise, Chandra continued, ?The restructuring exercise is expected to be completed by September/ October 2006, subject to necessary approvals. This shall create four focused, pure play, listed companies ready to exploit the vast emerging opportunities in each line of business. It would result in streamlined operations in each area and would also clear the ground for acquisitions and strategic or financial partners in the demerged businesses, apart from unlocking shareholder value. The next several years would provide tremendous growth opportunities for all these four businesses.?

Punit Goenka, Zee Telefilms whole time director and responsible for content creation, said, ?Zee TV continued to increase its viewership share from 21 per cent in 4Q FY2006 to 25 per cent during 1QFY2007, along with a significant growth in time spent. During the quarter, average gross ratings points (GRPs) of Zee TV have crossed 200 and for the last week it was at 240 GRPs, giving Zee a channel share of 29 per cent. The growth momentum has been led by widespread success of Saat Phere and Kasamh Se, which rank 5th and 6th among the top programmes on television, across genres. Zee TV now has leadership in the 9 pm to 10 pm time band, for the last six weeks.?

?Zee Cinema continues to be the number one movie channel, and increasingly is becoming a reach channel for advertisers. Zee Marathi has also considerably narrowed the gap with its competitor (ETV Marathi). Zee Sports continues to build on the back of Football and ODI Cricket matches. We will continue to reinforce our competitive advantage and deliver more value to viewers and shareholders," Goenka added.

Elaborating on the performance, Zee Telefilms CEO Pradeep Guha said, ?During FY2006, the yield per spot of ten seconds was the lowest in the history of Zee TV. Zee TV has introduced many initiatives, which focus on improving inventory utilization, attracting higher yielding categories of business and increasing effective rates across time bands. These efforts have resulted in a revenue growth faster than that of industry. Also, we have been able to establish Zee Cinema as a reach channel instead of a frequency channel, which will help us garner more advertising revenues.?

The Board of Directors in its meeting held today, has taken on record the unaudited consolidated financial results of Zee Telefilms Limited and its subsidiaries for the quarter ended 30 June, 2006.

REVENUE STREAMS:
Zee's advertising revenues increased to Rs 1.729 billion, a 31.5 per cent growth as compared to the corresponding quarter last fiscal. "This growth in advertising revenues was a result of higher average rates on most of the network channels. During this quarter, Zee Sports telecast the two One Day (ODI) Cricket matches played between Indian and Pakistan, which has
contributed to the growth in advertising revenues," the company said.

Overall, subscription revenues stood at Rs 1.798 billion, registered an increase of 2.8 per cent over the corresponding quarter last fiscal. Domestic pay revenues, including Siticable, stood at Rs1.039 billion. Other sales and services grew to Rs 357 million.

EXPENDITURE:
Overall, the cost of goods and operations went up 60.6 per cent compared to a year-ago period, mainly due to investments made in new channels like Zee Sports, Zee Smile, Zee Telugu and Zee Jagran. A large part of the incremental cost was on account of programming cost of Cricket rights on Zee Sports, states the company release.

Personnel cost were also up, 26 per cent higher than the corresponding period last year. Other costs, particularly marketing costs have increased by 23.2 per cent. As a result, total expenses were higher by 47.6 per cent.

From FY2006, the Company has accelerated its investments in the development and expansion of its network. There have been substantial marketing and content improvement initiatives on one hand, and on the other, number of new channels have been launched.

"As a result, Zee is in a phase in which the initial investments have been made and expensed fully, while the corresponding revenue build-up is to be realized in the next several quarters. The immediate impact is on operating profits, which we hope to recover in successive quarters through increasing revenues and progressive reduction in costs, the release adds.

Zee's Q1 segment-wise revenues are indicated in the table below:

*Content Business includes all Broadcasting and content production companies in India and abroad of Zee Telefilms
Limited, ETC Networks Limited.
# Access Business includes Siticable, Zee Turner and distribution segment of ZTL.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS

Sports
During the first quarter, Zee Sports telecast two ODIs between India and Pakistan played at Abu Dhabi. These were the first two matches in the contract with BCCI for overseas Cricket. In football, National Football League matches were telecast during the quarter. Building on the Football World Cup fever, Zee Sports commissioned ?Goal 2010?, an initiative to see India in the World Cup of 2010.

Cable Network
The cable business is poised to pursue new technology opportunities with renewed focus including digitization of cable, broadband and ?triple play? offerings. As per the Zee release, Siticable is the only MSO that would be deploying state-of-the-art Headend In The Sky technology, which would allow it to cover the entire country, not just the CAS notified areas. The recent regulatory and legal developments look set to lead to a roadmap for digitisation initially in the metros. The Delhi High Court has ordered Union Government to issue a revised notification to implement conditional access system (CAS) by 31 December 2006 in the notified areas of three metros i.e. Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata. There is more visibility now on the path of transition in the cable business towards digitisation, which would result in greater transparency and accountability, the release further adds.

Direct Consumer Services business
DTH services continue to make inroads into Indian homes. The service offerings have been expanded by adding SET Discovery?s The OneAlliance bouquet from June 2006. The service revenues from DishTV continue to generate good response.

The subscriber numbers have crossed 1,200,000 and are growing at the rate of about 3,500 per day. We are poised to execute market expansion strategies which would lead to a ramp up of subscription from the urban markets, based on value added services not presently available on cable.

Recently the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal (TDSAT) came out with an order, instructing Star to provide its channels to DishTV within 15 days. This would further enhance the present content offering of DishTV, Zee said in the release.

Restructuring in Zee Telefilms
Application for the restructuring has been made to the High Courts. The scheme of arrangement would require approval of shareholders of Zee and of Bombay High Court. The whole process is expected to be completed by September / October 2006. Zee News Limited, ASCEL and WWIL would be listed on all stock exchanges where ZTL is listed.Based on the unaudited results of ZTL (consolidated), Zee News Ltd. and ASCEL, the following table sets forth the proforma financials of each line of business for 1Q FY2007, as they would appear in a demerged scenario.

The company's investment in 25 FPS Media Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary engaged in production of television programming for the Zee Telefilms, is intended to be disposed off. Accordingly, its financials are not consolidated in these results. Previous year's figures are also not comparable to that extent, the company said in a posting on Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE).

At the Bombay Stock Exchange today, the Zee scrip opened at Rs 251.70 and closed at Rs 249.75, down Rs 1.95 from the previous day's close.

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