Balaji Telefilms elaborates how pandemic hit

The Ekta Kapoor-headed firm points out that both budgets and costs have been cut

KOLKATA: The complete shutdown of more than three months has had a sizeable impact on television and movie content creators. Although there has been a notable surge in TV viewing, leading broadcasters are also staring at huge losses as brands have limited their ad spends. In an earnings call, Balaji Telefilms management said that there would be a renegotiation with broadcasters. 

“We will all have to take a small cut in our end prices but I think we are trying to compensate that by also reducing the cost so that we get closer to the gross margins of this year. It will be a little late than what was there in the financial year that just ended but we are trying to make that good by putting more volume,” the management stated. 

Balaji Telefilms Ltd had witnessed a sharp decline of Rs 18 crore on the television business side in the Q4 of last financial year. While the pandemic induced crisis started towards the end of the quarter, the production house attributed Rs six crore to the Covid2019 crisis.

When the industry started feeling the heat of the pandemic, Balaji Telefilms joint managing director and creative head Ekta Kapoor announced that she would forgo a year’s salary of Rs 2.5 crore. Later, several reports floated in late April that it would cut three months salary of their employees. The management mentioned that the salary bill was down to 50 per cent from where it was in pre-Covid2019 time in April, May and June. 

While production cost was non-existent in that period, it is looking at an overall reduction of minimum 10 to 15 per cent in the production cost both on the digital and television side. “But this has to be measured on a week-to-week basis in the first two weeks of starting production. We are on track and we will keep you updated on how these cost-cutting measures take shape as the year goes on,” the management also mentioned. 

“All the content that we put on ALTBalaji is for individual audiences whereas our movies and television are for family audiences. Given that theatres are not going to open too soon we will have our business model skewed more towards digital releases, especially for films that cost less than around Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore,” it added. 

The management also addressed the query on finding investors, which was reported earlier by a publication. Although it did not clarify it did not refute it altogether as well. ”We have a roaring digital future. We keep getting enquiries from investors to invest in our platform but we are still holding our horses because we feel we have not reached the peak of our potential and it is going to be an opportunity in this crisis that we are fully poised to exploit in the remaining months of the financial year,” the management said. 

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