Kunal Dasgupta, former CEO at Multi Screen Media Pvt. Ltd, broadcaster of channels such as Sony (NYSE: SNE) Entertainment Television and Set Max, has, for years, spoken about expanding in the regional space. Weeks after his abrupt departure, MSM’s majority shareholder Sony Pictures Television International has acquired Channel 8, a Bengali movie channel.
The Economic Times reports that some 60 staffers have been laid off at Multi Screen Media following Kunal Dasgupta’s departure and more is to follow after the Indian Premier League, the hugely successful cricket league. MSM has the broadcast rights for the league.
The report mentions the talk within the trade that more layoffs will follow after IPL. It’s well known that Multi Screen Media’s Indian investors, who hold some 32% stake in the company, and Dasgupta, were not exactly the best of friends. It’s difficult to determine if that group has a greater say under the new scheme of things. There are some indications that they do, and if that is so, it’s only reasonable to expect that they would want to get rid of any perceived clique or coterie associated with the old dispensation. Dasgupta was at the helm for 14 years.
TV18 downgraded by Fitch
Indiantelevision reports that Fitch Ratings has downgraded TV18 India Ltd. The national long term rating has been changed from A to BBB. In a Feb 27 report, the outlook for the broadcaster’s debt position was revised from ‘stable’ to ‘negative’. “The rating action reflects the greater-than-expected deterioration in TV18’s financial profile over the nine-month period ended 31 December 2008 (9mFY09) and deployment of the large cash balances available with the company over the period to support its subsidiaries and group companies … The Negative Outlook reflects the expectation of ongoing pressure on operating metrics in light of the difficult economic environment. With earnings and cash flow pressures expected over FY10 for many sectors, Fitch expects advertising revenues, being largely discretionary in nature, to remain under pressure over the medium term.,” the report says.
On Monday, TV18 closed 8.27% down at Rs56.05 on BSE. Sensex fell 1.99%.