Slowdown halts Zee News Ltd’s expansion plans

MUMBAI: Television news broadcaster Zee News Ltd (ZNL) has halted its expansion plans due to a slowdown in the economy.

After demerging from Zee’s entertainment broadcasting business, ZNL had chalked out a plan for more channel launches after spending a year in consolidating its operations.

“Our focus last year was on consolidation. But for the slowdown, we would have expanded our bouquet this year,” said Zee News Ltd chief executive officer Barun Das in an interview with 
News broadcasters will have to increase their fleet of channels if they have to scale up their revenues. “It is difficult for established existing channels to post ad revenue growth beyond 10 per cent. Expanding the bouquet and strengthening it is key to a TV news broadcaster’s growth strategy,” said Das.

ZNL is looking at launching regional news channels but an English general news channel is also on the cards. “It would preferably be regional news channels first but we have not ruled out an English news channel. It all depends on the fund position and the extent of the slowdown. When we are looking at growth, we can’t take the market for granted anymore,” averred Das.

ZNL is looking at posting a revenue of over Rs 3 billion this fiscal even as it forecasts a sluggish growth for the industry in the next two quarters. The company had reported a revenue of Rs 1.43 billion for the six-month period ended September 2011.

“The next two quarters are not going to be easy. But we expect to outgrow the market by at least 5 per cent,” said Das.

ZNL owns and operates seven channels including Zee News, Zee Business, Zee 24 Taas, Zee Punjabi, 24 Ghanta, Zee 24 Ghantalu and Zee News UP.

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