Naspers reports 6percent increase in revenue

AFRICA's largest media group Naspers yesterday reported a 6percent increase in revenue to R13,5billion for the six months ended September driven by a strong performance from its pay-TV and Internet segments.

The print business remains under pressure. Operating profit grew 19percent to R2,8billion, reflecting a net improvement in operating margins. Naspers now reaches 3,7million homes across the 50 countries in which it operates in Africa, up 11percent over the past six months.

The pay-TV businesses grew by 352000 gross subscribers, increasing revenue in this division by 15percent to R8billion. The compact bouquet, offering a restricted and more affordable offering, grew by 132000 subscribers in South Africa, but advertising revenues decreased in line with consumer spending.

The base grew by 114 000 to just over a million in the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, with lower-priced Compact bouquets reaching 391000 homes.

Naspers' share of income from associates including Tencent in China, in Russia and Abril in Brazil, amounted to R872million, more than double the contribution from the same period a year ago.

Print media in South Africa gained market share but advertising was weak. Cost-cutting remains a focus.

Naspers chief executive Koos Bekker said the group would continue to grow Internet operations organically and through acquisitions. Investment in new products and services will be accelerated over the next six months.

Naspers financial director Steve Pacak warned that pay-TV margins were likely to come under pressure because of increased programming costs. "Live sport, in particular, is becoming very expensive," Pacak warned.

SuperSport is the largest funder of sport in Africa.