India’s economy is back on track, with continued implementation of structural reforms that aim to raise productivity and incentivise private investment. Last year witnessed some turbulence on account of teething troubles over the implementation of the unified Goods and Services Tax that impacted the overall business sentiment in the country. However, the economy has since rebounded.
In FY 2017-18, India grew by 6.7%, with the GDP growth bouncing back to 7.7% in the last quarter. According to the International Monetary Fund, the country is expected to grow by 7.4% in FY 2018-19.
The Media and Entertainment industry grew faster than the economy, by 13% in CY 2017 over CY 2016. Print continued to account for the second largest share in the overall M&E industry. Within this, regional languages, especially Hindi, remained the stand-out performer.
Our advertising revenues for the year remained soft amidst the headwinds of GST implementation and the lingering effects of demonetization. Although, we believe both will benefit the country in the long-term. Despite the tough environment, our fundamentals remained strong. We continued to increase our readership even as we focused on delivering high-quality journalism to our readers and a relevant audience to our advertisers.
The Indian Readership Survey 2017 further confirmed the dominance of Hindustan in the industry. Our flagship newspaper brand is the second largest across all languages in India, reaching 5.24 crore readers across the country. It continues to be the No.1 Hindi daily in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand and a strong No.2 in Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.
During the year, we undertook aggressive brand building activities focused on increasing our readership base and strengthening our leadership position in the market. We have continuously evolved our brand and introduced innovative marketing initiatives to remain relevant and salient to both readers and advertisers. Our offline audience engagement initiatives included a thought-leadership forum, ‘Hindustan Shikhar Samagam’, and socially relevant efforts such as ‘Hindustan Swachhata Abhiyan’, and ‘Hindustan Ratn’. We launched two new products, viz. Hindustan Smart across 6 cities targeting price sensitive customer base and Fursat, a Sunday supplement for the entire family.
With an aim to increase our footprint across geographies we have undertaken multiple initiatives. We have set up a new facility in Purnia and procured a new printing line to expand our capacity in Patna. In the coming year, our focus will be on growth; we expect this to be supported by macroeconomic tailwinds and the upcoming parliamentary elections in 2019. We will continue with our efforts to enhance engagement with our audience and advertisers through socially relevant and impactful events.
We look forward to a great year ahead, backed by the hard work of our employees, continuous effort of our management, trust of our shareholders and loyalty of our readers. Our commitment towards India and its citizens remains unwavering, with sustained efforts to develop and strengthen the Company’s position, not just as a leading print and media organization, but also as a positive influence in collective nation-building efforts.