Indian company Zee Entertainment posted its first loss in three years due to weak advertising demand and higher costs

Zee Entertainment Enterprises on Thursday reported its first quarterly loss in three years as advertisers cut marketing budgets and spending soared.

Zee posted a consolidated net loss of Rs.196 crore (US$23.7 million) for the fourth quarter ended March 31, up from a profit of Rs.182 crore a year ago, according to a regulatory filing.

The company’s total revenue fell 9.9 per cent to Rs.2,126 crore while expenses rose nearly 10 per cent.

Indian broadcasters have seen their profits fall in recent quarters. Analysts point out that loss-making new-age companies and inflation-hit consumer goods sellers are spending less on advertising.

Zee said in a statement that its domestic ad revenue fell by a tenth in the March quarter, blaming a “slowing down in ad spending.”

Read | Sony Group aims to expand creations rooted in Indian culture through the merger of Sony Pictures and Zee

The company also added that it was cutting its funding for tech startup SugarBox due to inflation and the terms of an upcoming merger with the Indian arm of Japan’s Sony Group Corp. discontinued, but would put money into digital and sports businesses.

Zee had suffered setbacks with creditors over a loan default dispute in the wake of the merger, but settled it in March.

However, according to recent reports, the National Stock Exchange and the Bombay Stock Exchange may have to reconsider their approvals for the merger after the Indian regulator issued a ruling against a company in the Essel Group, of which Zee is a part.

Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said last week the company is trying to complete the merger by the end of the first half of its fiscal year ending in March.

Zee’s results lagged behind peers New Delhi Television Ltd, TV Today Network Ltd and TV18 Broadcast Ltd, which reported profits fell between 76 percent and 98 percent in the quarter.

Shares of Zee closed 1.08 percent lower ahead of the earnings announcement and fell 11.6 percent in the March quarter.

Sybil Alvarez

"Incurable gamer. Infuriatingly humble coffee specialist. Professional music advocate."

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