TV18's general news biz posts maiden operating profit in Q1

MUMBAI: TV18 Broadcast’s general news business, comprising CNN IBN and IBN7, has swung into operating profit for the first time as fiscal-first quarter revenue grew at a healthy 11 per cent under a tough economic climate.

The segment‘s operating profit stood at Rs 22 million for the three months ended 30 June 2012 against a loss of Rs 5 million a year earlier.

The segment’s revenues climbed to Rs 679 million from Rs 614 million.

TV18 Broadcast said operating margin of the general news business improved to 3 per cent in the first quarter from a negative of one per cent a year ago.

English news channel CNN IBN was launched in December 2005, while Hindi news channel IBN7 is the rebranded version of Channel 7, which was acquired by Network18 in 2006 from Jagran group.

The business news operations - CNBC 18 and CNBC Awaaz - continued to be TV18 Broadcast’s crown jewel with revenues of Rs 718 million in the first quarter of 2012-13, up from Rs 681 million a year earlier. Operating profit from business news operations increased to Rs 208 million in the first quarter from Rs 175 million in the earlier year.

The operating margin for business news improved to 29 per cent from 26 per cent. TV18 Broadcast’s operating profit for the overall news business in the first quarter rose 27 per cent to Rs 232 million.

Network18 MD Raghav Bahl said, “After a strong phase of investment in building our portfolio of channels, TV18 has now entered a consolidation phase and we are focused on creating value for all our stakeholders. Even though the broader macroeconomic environment remains challenging and uncertain, the Indian broadcasting industry is enthused by the enormous opportunity that digitisation presents.”

“At TV18, we are confident that with our distribution venture - IndiaCast, we are well poised to claim our rightful share of the opportunity. After we complete our proposed strategic stake acquisition in ETV and the proposed twin rights issues (subject to regulatory approvals), we believe that our strong television footprint will propel us to the next phase of our growth.”

Even though its general news business reported an operating profit, TV18 Broadcast reported a net loss of Rs 78 million in the first quarter against a net profit of Rs 235 million a year earlier, as its interest cost rose to Rs 291 million (from Rs 210 million). TV18 Broadcast was helped in reporting net profit in the first quarter of the previous fiscal by high other income of Rs 337 million compared to Rs 41 million in the quarter ended 30 June 2012.

In the exit quarter of the previous fiscal, TV18 Broadcast had reported a net loss of Rs 83 million.

TV18 Broadcast’s revenue from news business rose 7.20 per cent to Rs 1.36 billion in the first quarter from Rs 1.27 billion a year earlier. The company’s income from operations stood at 1.22 billion, up 5.17 per cent.

Operating expenses for the news business saw a minor jump to Rs 1.14 billion from Rs 1.09 billion a year earlier due to rise in staff costs to Rs 380 million from Rs 320 million. Marketing, distribution and promotional expenses, however, fell to Rs 333 million from Rs 373 million a year ago.

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