Hari Bhoomi’s FY 2020-21 H1 results subdued by pandemic

Circulation drops drastically in the first half of the year

Hindi daily Hari Bhoomi
Hindi daily Hari Bhoomi

As reported by Exchange4Media (www.exchange4media.com), the Hindi daily Hari Bhoomi’s revenue was drastically diminished by the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing total lockdown in the country. The newspaper’s circulation has come down from an average of 8,36,290 copies in the last financial year to 4,07,118 copies daily in the first half of the current financial year from 1 April 2020 to 30 September 2020.

Hari Bhoomi Communications, which owns the Hindi daily and TV channels Janta TV and INH, has reported Rs 0.71 crore net profit on a total operating income of Rs 33.87 crore in the first half of the current financial year. Both circulation and advertising revenues have taken a big hit.

However, like many Indian dailies, there was some cost-cutting on inputs such as newsprint, plates, and inks by decreasing pagination from 16 pages to 12 pages and doing away with supplements.

The decline in Hari Bhoomi‘s revenue precedes the pandemic

Hari Bhoomi’s total operating income declined by 10.4% to Rs 129.25 crore in FY 2019-20 compared to the previous financial year. It managed to achieve a net profit of Rs 64 lakhs for FY 2019-20, which itself is a considerable drop from the Rs 3.13 crore in the previous financial year. 

In FY 2019-20, which ended just a week after the country’s complete lockdown on 23 March 2020, HBC’s television division reported a loss of Rs 3.76 crore on a total operating income of Rs 11.63 crore. The loss contrasts with a profit of Rs 0.23 crore on a smaller operating income of Rs 3.53 crore in FY 2018-19. The company entered the television segment with an acquisition of Hindi news channels in three states, expected to widen to a reach of six states by January 2021. 

Nevertheless, Hari Bhoomi has achieved a stable rating and is not overly leveraged according to its BBB rating by CARE. The post-pandemic environment is extremely competitive for Hindi news dailies, especially with an erosion in circulation that may not return altogether. 

However, Hari Bhoomi represents a part of the pyramid where circulations are not overly inflated, and if the advertising in print returns, print revenues can recover. The television segment expansion may drain its finances. In the best-case scenario, the group’s content and more extensive reach across six states, if quickly differentiated from the competition, may attract advertising support. 

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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