Seven West Media’s profit plummets

25/08/2020 - 16:02

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Seven West Media’s underlying net profit was down 66.1 per cent to $40.8 million, due to a weak advertising market.

Seven West Media’s profit plummets
Seven West Media's free-to-air TV advertising revenue fell 14.1 per cent and its newspaper advertising revenue decreased by 9.8 per cent. Photo: Gabriel Oliveira

Seven West Media’s underlying net profit was down 66.1 per cent to $40.8 million, due to a weak advertising market.

The media company’s free-to-air TV advertising revenue fell 14.1 per cent and its newspaper advertising revenue decreased by 9.8 per cent.

Newspaper ad revenue included Community News Group papers, which were acquired in May 2019.

To decrease its debt, Seven West Media sold Redwave Radio, Pacific Magazines, its WA and Maroochydore properties, which returned $150 million in total.

The group had cost savings of $170 million, including $135 million from TV and $33 million from publishing.

Interim measures to limit the COVID-19 fallout saved $51 million, which included a three month salary reduction and JobKeeper, deferring sports rights payments and disruptions to filming delaying content.

Next year, the company is planning on further operating efficiencies to save between $30 million and $50 million.

Seven West Media managing director and chief executive officer James Warburton said since he returned to Seven West Media and laid out a new strategy, the company had made progress, despite COVID-19.

Mr Warburton referred to Seven’s "content-led growth strategy", which included Farmer Wants a Wife and bringing back Big Brother.

He also mentioned the structural change under way at The West Australian, including implementing a paywall in June 2019 and hiring former Fairfax Media chief executive Greg Hywood to review the paper.

The company reported its newspapers, The West Australian, The Sunday Times and various regional titles, had 60,000 digital subscribers.

While digital subscribers increased, circulation of the group’s newspapers decreased by 7.2 per cent.

Channel Seven’s news audience increased by 11 per cent.

According to Nielsen, 7NEWS.com.au had the fifth largest news website audience in Australia in July, but was behind nine.com.au and ABC News.

The company's digital revenue increased 39.6 per cent, which it said was driven by broadcaster video-on-demand.

Mr Warburton said the company was going to continue to transform its business.

“Our objective is to establish a lean, efficient operating cost base to deliver further savings in the 2021 financial year and I am confident we will deliver our strategy and ambitions for the future,” Mr Warburton said in a statement.

“We have significant operating leverage with our lower cost base to provide greater upside on market recovery and drive significant value for our shareholders.”

The company said it was unable to provide guidance for 2021 earnings due to uncertainty in advertising markets.

Shares in Seven West Media closed at 13 cents each, down 16 per cent.

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