Television

Zee News Ltd bucks trend, posts strong Q3 growth

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MUMBAI: Bucking the trend of a slow ad growth, Zee News Limited (ZNL) posted a 45.4 per cent jump in third-quarter revenue over the year-ago period, with regional channels driving the pace.

Consolidated revenue stood at Rs 1.43 billion for the quarter ended 31 December 2008, sending signals that regional advertisers can come to the rescue of channels that successfully target such audiences.

Net profit was up 18.38 per cent to Rs 151.27 million for the quarter under review, as ZNL kept costs under control.

Says Zee Group chairman Subhash Chandra, "Our bouquet composition, aggressive and innovative strategy and an ever cost-conscious approach to business helped us achieve this feat - something seemingly impossible for most other media organisations."

ZNL's advertising revenues grew by 38.8 per cent to Rs 1.12 billion while subscription earnings stood 46.4 per cent up to Rs 236 million for the third quarter of the fiscal.

ZNL's standalone net profit stood at Rs 153.71 million, up 19.7 per cent from a year earlier. Revenue was up 45.78 per cent to Rs 1.39 billion for the quarter under review.

Says Zee News CEO Barun Das, "The existing businesses continued to grow and recorded 23 per cent growth in operating revenues while the same for new businesses was 333.3 per cent. This has helped us outperform the market."

Zee Telugu, Zee Kannada, Zee 24 Taas, Zee Tamil, Zee Talkies and Zee 24 Ghantalu (yet to launch), which are considered as 'New Businesses,' have incurred an operating loss of Rs 394.83 million during the nine-month period ended 31 December, 2008. The loss on Zee 24 Ghantalu (Telugu news channel) was Rs 9.26 million during the period.

The company is critically reviewing the performance of its channels and has announced the closure of Zee Gujarati from 30 April. Says Chandra, "While we are strategically expanding our presence, the channels which are not likely to make profit in the near future have been critically reviewed by the company. The board has approved the closure of Zee Gujarati with effect from 30 April, 2009. The forthcoming UP news channel launch will be a key strategic expansion along with other regional proliferation of our products and services."

Zee Akaash News Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of ZNL that operates Bengali news channel 24 Ghanta, has incurred an operating loss of Rs 6.96 million during the nine-month period ended 31 December, 2008.

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