BCCL’s consolidated net loss of Rs 451.63 crore in FY 2019-20

BCCL revenues may decline by 20% in FY 2020-21

Image: Newspaperkart.com

India’s leading news media group Bennett Coleman and Company, publisher of the Times of India in English and several language dailies and periodicals and owner of more than 30 electronic and digital properties, lost considerable ad revenue in the financial year which ended on 31 March 2020. However, the group’s print and TV segments were in profit, even though ad and circulation revenues declined.

One can only surmise that print revenue may slip further in the current pandemic-ridden financial year that ends on 31 March 2021 because of decreases in circulation and ad revenue, especially in the first two quarters of the year. One rating agency expects the group’s revenues to decline by 20 to 25% in the current financial year.

As the leading news publisher in the country that has diversified to electronic and digital channels over the years, agencies nevertheless expect a recovery to ‘normal advertising revenues’ in the 2021-22 financial year. The group has taken several measures to lower costs during the pandemic, such as employee redundancies and discontinuing some of its supplements and publications. The group reportedly also has Rs 2,000 crore in liquid resources.

Overall loss but print and TV show profit

Business intelligence platform Tofler’s financial data shows that BCCL had a net loss of Rs. 451.63 crore in FY 19-20 compared to a net profit of Rs 484.27 crore in FY 18-19. Total income fell from Rs 10,467.53 crore to Rs 9,733.45 crore while revenue from operations declined from Rs 9,611.42 crore to Rs 9,254.53 crore.

BCCL’s print revenue declined by 10% from Rs 6,259.89 crore in FY 2018-19 to Rs 5,627.12 crore in FY 2019-20. Television revenue increased smartly by 16% from Rs 711.90 to Rs 826.32 in the year. Internet revenues increased by 1.7% from Rs 1,180.41 crore to Rs 1,200.34 crore in FY 2019-20. Other operations revenues increased by 9.7% from Rs 1,459.22 crore in FY 18-19 to Rs 1,600.75 crore in FY 2019-20.

Nevertheless, BCCL’s print operations, which are its largest revenue source, showed a profit of Rs 1,005 crore in FY 2019-20 compared to a higher yield of Rs 1,136.34 crore in FY 2018-19. The company’s television business showed Rs 16.41 crore profit before tax in FY 19-20 compared to the Rs 33.63 crore loss in the previous financial year.

BCCL’s ad revenue declined by 12.8% from Rs 6,155.32 crore to Rs 5,367.88 crore in FY 2019-20. Publications sales revenue also declined by 4% from Rs. 656.09 crore to Rs. 629 crore. The company’s revenue from its Internet properties and services increased by 25% from Rs 226.42 crore in FY 18-19 to Rs 284.95 crore in FY 19-20. The company’s television distribution revenue rose from Rs. 36.29 crore in the previous financial year to Rs 40.17 crore in FY 19-20. BCCL’s sales of traded products rose from Rs 1,379.94 crore to Rs 1,787.10 crore in FY 19-20. Other operating revenues fell from Rs. 1,157.36 crore to Rs 1,144.47 crore in FY 19-20.

Loss-making segments

In FY 2019-20, BCCL’s loss before tax from its Internet businesses increased from Rs 550.66 crore to Rs 837.72 crore. Its other operating revenues segment reported a loss before tax of Rs 344.60 crore compared to a profit before tax of Rs 214.28 crore in the previous financial year.

Rise in expenses

BCCL’s total expenses increased by 3.8% from Rs 9,552.13 crore to Rs 9,911.05 crore in FY 19-20. Employee costs rose 8% from Rs. 2,563.93 crore to Rs 2,767.55 crore compared to Rs 2,562.93 crore in the previous financial year. The cost of materials, including newsprint, offset plates, inks, chemicals, and other inputs declined by 24.6% in FY19-20 from Rs. 1,694.66 crore to Rs. 1,277.02 crore. This decline in input materials should correlate with loss of circulation and reduced pagination and advertising in the year. However, ‘other expenses’ rose 10.8% from 4,053.59 crore to Rs 4,493.91 crore in FY 19-20.

BCCL’s news media business in print has The Times of India and The Economic Times as its flagship dailies in English published from numerous cities across the country. Its regional language dailies include Navbharat Times in Hindi, Maharashtra Times in Marathi, Vijay Karnataka in Kannada, and Ei Samay in Bengali. It also publishes Filmfare and Femina magazines.

BCCL’s other ad platforms include outdoor and indoor signage, news, entertainment television, radio, and music channels. The group’s approximately 30 Internet properties are part of a wholly-owned subsidiary, Times Internet. Its radio channels are part of its Entertainment Network India company, in which it has a 71.15% promoter’s equity holding.

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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