Television

Star revenues to grow 15 % this fiscal: MPA

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MUMBAI: The Star Group is expected to post a 15 per cent year on year revenue growth at $624 million for FY June 2007 with operating profit margins at 24.3 per cent or $151 million, according estimates by Hong Kong-based research firm Media Partners Asia (MPA).

Star's September quarter was relatively soft (historically soft for the broadcaster in Asia) with revenue up a modest 6 per cent Y/Y to $140 million (MPA estimate) and operating income up 8 per cent to $13 million.

While subscription revenue grew by 6 per cent Y/Y, programming costs declined over the quarter. "This leverage, however, was offset by lower ad revenue at flagship STAR Plus in India, where the decrease in advertising reflected last year?s high base comparison when revenue grew 22 per cent Y/Y due to the successful broadcast of Kaun Banega Crorepati 2," the MPA report said. Despite maintaining leadership position, Star's ratings have softened with Zee TV posing a strong threat.

Tata Sky, News Corp.?s 20:80 direct-to-home (DTH) joint venture with the Tatas, has acquired around 180,000 subscribers till October-end, after having launched its services in August. The company says it is on track to add a net one million subscribers per annum.

?The early results have been encouraging,? the report quoted News Corp chief operating officer and president Peter Chernin as having said. ?Any additions are sort of immediate additional subsribers for channels and the good news is that they are at least 100 per cent reporting, which is a nice positive phenomenon in India.?

News Corp, parent company of Star, had a sluggish September quarter with operating income at $851 million, down 6 per cent Y/Y, with a strong performance at its cable network and newspaper businesses offset by softness at its TV, movie and digital satellite units. It saw also higher than expected costs at the company?s online properties. The company reported earnings of $0.27 per share, benefiting from a $261 million gain after the sale of Sky Brasil and $136 million from the sale of its 19.9 per cent stake in Chinese commercial broadcaster Phoenix Satellite TV, in which News Corp still holds a 17.6 per cent interest.

The company, however, expects a strong full year in FY 07 with robust growth forecast for Star Group and aggressiv expansion of MySpace into multiple Asian markets, the MPA report said.

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