DB Corp reports Q1 net loss of Rs 48 crore

Print ad revenue improving post-lockdown

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DB Corp is one of the largest news media groups in India. Photo DB Corp
DB Corp is one of the largest news media groups in India. Photo DB Corp

DB Corp, also known as the Dainik Bhaskar newspaper group, has reported a consolidated net loss of Rs 48.04 crore in Q1 FY2020-2021 against a profit of Rs 93.7 crore in the same period last year due to the market disruptions induced by Covid-19 pandemic.

Revenue from operations was down to Rs 210.41 crore from Rs 607.03 crore in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal. Total expenses were at Rs 279.41 crore against Rs 467.21 crore in the same period of last year.

Its revenue from printing, publishing, and allied business was down 64.45% to Rs 202.43 crore during the quarter as against Rs 569.53 crore in the year-ago period. Revenue from radio was at Rs 7.98 crore in April-June 2020 as against Rs 37.65 crore in the same period last year.

DB Corp is one of the largest print media companies and publishes newspapers like Dainik Bhaskar, Divya Bhaskar, Divya Marathi, and Saurashtra Samachar. Girish Agarwaal, non-executive director of the company, said during a conference call that the company is seeing a continuous recovery in its advertising revenue. 

In April 2020, because of the lockdown, ad sales were around only 19% compared to April last year, which improved just by 1% to 20% in May and further improved to 32% in June compared to the same month in the previous year. And in July, revenue further improved to 53% of last year’s ad sales despite some short-term reimpositions of the lockdown in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Bihar in the middle of July.

“And currently, as we speak, in the second week of August, we are at an 81% level in the overall circulation numbers and with a few key markets like Rajasthan clocking even higher at 84%. The balance 16% or 19% of copies that are yet to come back to us are largely from the offices and the markets in the containment zones. We are confident that as and when the situation comes under control, these containment zones will be relaxed, and the offices and the shops will again resume their operations, and the copies will come back,” he said.

The company’s efforts to educate readers through awareness campaigns by experts paid off well. Circulated copies increased to 76% by 30 June and to 78% daily by the end of July, thus registering continuous pick up in circulation. Overall circulation has recovered to 81% of pre-lockdown levels with some key markets, including Rajasthan, reaching 84%.

In the same conference call, Pawan Agarwaal, deputy managing director of DB Corp, said that its digital business has been doing very well. “Our app users have gone up by almost 4x with one of the highest time spent by users. During the past couple of months, given the Covid situation, while most of the media companies in India post advertising on their digital platforms to optimize revenue on their digital platforms, we remain focused on our strategy of building best-in-class radio experience on our digital app with no ads even during Covid-19. We continue to invest in the digital business, and our focus is on our app’s daily active users,” he said.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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