Metro, the English-language community paper from Mid Day Multimedia, will soon have a language edition. The company, according to Anwar Dawood, publisher, Metro, is looking at a presence in both Marathi and Urdu apart from English. "We have sent the declaration for a Marathi-language as well as Urdu-language paper; whichever materialises first will be launched by November-end or early-December this year," he says.
If launched on schedule, the foray will mark the group's entry into the language space, something it has been toying with for a while now. Not a bad idea given the group's prospects. For the quarter ended September 30, 2003, the company registered a profit before tax or PBT of Rs 2.61 crore against net sales of Rs 22.12 crore. In the same period a year earlier, that is, for the quarter ended September 30, 2002, the company reported a loss of Rs 11 lakh against net sales of Rs 18.93 crore. When compared with the first quarter of this year, PBT stood at Rs 1.95 crore against net sales of Rs 20.45 crore. A year earlier, that is, April to June 2002, the figures were: net sales, Rs 20.77 crore and PBT, Rs 2.26 crore.
The healthy performance this quarter, according to a company statement, can be attributed to "improved efficiencies and sales growth in the core newspaper business combined with a significant reduction in losses in the outdoor business".
Regarding the drop in PBT in the first quarter this year over the corresponding quarter last year, Manajit Ghosal, CFO, Mid Day Multimedia, in an earlier conversation with agencyfaqs!, had pointed at a "lot of investments over the last year". "The downside is the outdoor division," he had said. "Mid Day operates bus shelters in excess of 700 in south Mumbai and one has to enter into minimum guarantee contracts with government agencies for the same. There is need for rationalisation of the figures," he had pointed out.
Metro, meanwhile, will see the rollout of the tenth English language edition in the first week of January 2004. Targeted at the suburbs of Mumbai including Bandra, Lokhandwala/Versova, Ghatkopar, Chembur, Malad, Borivli, Mulund, Vashi and Thane, the tenth edition will be launched in the southern-most tip of Mumbai, namely, Colaba.
The language edition, on the other hand, will concentrate on the city, though the skew could change, claims Dawood. "The reason for considering a language edition is because we wanted to serve the community in the right manner," he says. "We will geographically demarcate areas to avoid overlap," he adds.
For now, the company is carrying out research between Bombay Central and Colaba (areas located in the south of Mumbai), to explore the potential of a language paper in these areas. "We will make a start from here," says Dawood. "Though much depends on the response we get," he adds. © 2003 agencyfaqs!