Much like any other media company, Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd (BCCL) too is caught in the midst of a perfect slowdown storm. BCCL’s moves are under the microscope as usual, and the cost-cutting measures that the company has undertaken, which include layoffs and pay-cuts, are being discussed widely across media houses. BCCL CEO Ravi Dhariwal explained to exchange4media that the company had broken down the situation at hand into two components – increasing cost build-ups and the slackening of revenues.
He said that the company had addressed the first part already in various ways that included revisiting basic aspects such as input costs like electricity supply to plants or the travel arrangements of BCCL staff to more large scale decisions such as the number of pages being printed of its various print brands to cost rationalising of manpower and salaries. The company was also expecting exorbitant costs like newsprint prices to drop further. Dhariwal said that with all these measures, BCCL had tackled the increasing cost build-ups and had controlled the company’s expenditure.
BCCL is now diverting all its attention to increasing the revenues and hence, the profitability of the organisation. This includes an elaborate plan of putting together a joint effort of integrated solutions, where for the first time BCCL executives would work out plans where advertisers could take the “combined advantage” of all BCCL media vehicles.
In essence, the initiative is headed by BCCL’s President Bhaskar Das, who heads the Response division of BCCL. Dhariwal explained, “Bhaskar will work in conjunction with the heads of all of our individual businesses to take this forward.” The company has put together regional heads that would actively look at providing such solutions to advertisers. BCCL is also adding to the mix newer vehicles that advertisers can look at. He said, “The new property would attract its own advertising. We are providing a very strong activation solution to the advertisers.
Investment in long-term initiatives continues
One point that Dhariwal emphasised on was that the company would
not cut down on any of its investments in the areas of new media
investment, where radio and digital would continue to see focus, and
in newer more competitive geographies. He stated, “We launched two new
brands in the digital space – iconnext and iviva – and we are working
at launching our business news channel, ET Now, by May 2009,”
explained Dhariwal. He stressed that the company was “committed to all
its long-term investments”.
He observed, “There always would be businesses that require investments at present, and even at this time we would not sacrifice the long term plans of the company. We would continue to put money on digital, participate in the new phase of a radio wholeheartedly, invest in a market like Chennai, and so on. In the meantime, we had to correct some of the short term costs and that we have done. We do not want to slow down our growth plans.”
BCCL is choosing where it wants to spend, and many investments such as in the JV with Hindustan Times or in a more turbulent media like out-of-home have seen the company back off. The company has been selective in international growth plans, and now given the challenges of the other markets such as Dubai, where BCCL was planning to launch a paper, have taken a backseat.
Dhariwal maintained, “We still want to be market leaders in all the mediums that are there. The steps that we have taken are as responsible businessmen and as market leaders to restore the levels of the company’s profitability.”
After layoffs, it is pay-cut time at Bennett, Coleman & Co Ltd