Elections are the most coveted event for TV news channels and Union Budgets are what business TV channels look forward to. Their viewership shoots up on those occasions—it’s no wonder that TV channels advertise heavily the coverage of Union Budget as an event. That is when they hope to rake in the moolah. This is widely known to the investor community. Therefore it comes as a shock that CNBC blames the just-released poor performance of its September quarter on the Union Budget of July. Raghav Bahl, managing director, Network 18, has said just this in an interview to his own channel.
“Unfortunately, the last quarter was a quarter in which we had a budget and we also had a couple of competitive launches in that quarter. So, our cost level has also gone up,” said Bahl to CNBC. In September 2009 quarter all business news channels broadcasted both these events with much fanfare. If revenues don’t come from such mega events why does CNBC advertise them so much?
In the March quarter when TV18’s news operations reported a 36% decline in revenues of its news broadcasting business, IDFC-SSKI had blamed the poor performance on the fact that time there was no Union Budget which is normally held in February and boosts the March quarter results.
TV18’s news operations reported a loss of Rs33.10 crore for the September quarter which takes the loss in the first half to Rs61.38 crore. Loss for the year ended March 2009 was Rs166.36 crore. The news operation was the only bright spot in an array of lossmaking businesses of the TV18 group— Newswire, Web business and Infomedia—until 2008.