The country’s oldest news broadcaster, New Delhi Television (NDTV), is slated to employ a host of cost-cutting measures in a bid to improve its financial health.
According to three sources privy to the development, the company may relocate a section of NDTV Profit’s back-end staffers from Mumbai to Delhi. Another round of headcount rationalisation is also said to be in the offing.
However, NDTV’s Chief Executive Officer Vikram Chandra, said there were multiple options and that no formal decision had been taken yet.
“In the last two years, we have looked at more than 200 options for reducing costs. We keep asking questions such as: Does it make sense to have fewer people in Mumbai? Should we move some back-end staff to Delhi? Do we need as many outside broadcasting vans? However, no firm decision has been taken at this point,” Chandra told Business Line.
The bigwigs at NDTV, which runs the NDTV 24X7 and NDTV Profit channels, are expected to take a decision on this front in the next few weeks, he added.
After seven quarters of reporting losses, NDTV posted a net profit of Rs 14.87 crore in the quarter ended December 31, 2012, as per publicly available data. “The problem with NDTV is that they do not have a bouquet of channels. Hence, getting advertisements is a challenge. NDTV Good Times (its Lifestyle Channel) has challenges with regards to diversity of content. The broadcast news market is a tough one because of the TRP (television rating points) wars,” said Sanjeev Hota, Assistant Vice-President, Sharekhan Securities.
Staff rationalisation is said to be an ongoing process at NDTV. In 2012, the company laid off close to 50 employees. As on December 31, 2012, NDTV employed 1,739 persons, according to a company spokesperson.
Chandra feels that the broadcaster is grappling with external challenges ranging from ‘a broken distribution model’ in the media industry to the un-reliability of TAM Ratings in gauging viewership. In fact, NDTV had filed a case against The Nielsen Co. (part owner of TAM Ratings) seeking more than a billion dollars in damages, claiming the global research firm fudged viewership data.
In addition, the company is grappling with some city-specific deterrents. “Taxis (for staff on late night shifts) are a Delhi problem, while high rentals are a Mumbai phenomena,” he said.
Also, speculation is rife that NDTV may move out of its current office space in South Mumbai in order to cut down the rentals. Chandra played down such concerns.
“Our lease term with IndiaBulls (the landlord) expires on March 2014. We will continue to be here till then.”