It has been a challenging year for the Company as the Film business in the country hasby and large suffered with only a few releases meeting expectations. There has been somecause for optimism as well because inspite of the environment the Company has managed toadd to its screen count with 11 new screens plus its first overseas property of 6 screensin Bahrain. The operations also resulted in profit before tax after a gap of three years.This now coupled with some major changes in the company structure builds the platformfor some solid years of growth ahead.
The Indian Media and Entertainment industry grew by 9.1% aided by advertising growth of11.2% in-spite of slow US and China growth and demonetisation. TV revenue growth ratehowever slowed down owing to growth in digital streams to which ad spends gotsubstantially diverted. Print continued to remain slow in its growth. The Film sectorthough as mentioned had a particularly bad year. Only regional cinema and overseasexploitation outperformed expectations. The film sector grew by only 3% last year. Inreality domestic box office collections actually fell offset by the sharp growth ofoverseas collections across new Asian markets. Revenue from Digital streams though grewwith the growth in 4G booming after the Reliance Jio launch.
However for the coming year the line-up of movies is good. FICCI reports that 7.7%growth is being projected for the Film industry. Overseas contribution Regional moviesand Digital (OTT) revenues will keep growing. Screen count growth is slow and may impactoverall domestic growth but in the areas of Tier 2 and Tier 3 there is a substantialopportunity and this is where the Company's growth plan can work to its benefit.
The Company opened 4 new locations in India in the Tier 1 and 2 centres of DehradunPanvel Aurangabad and two in Mumbai including the prestigious New Excelsior cinema in theheart of the city. All these have added to the scale of our cinemas ambitions as we aimhigher and higher. Mukta A2 Cinemas is building a strong brand and finding loyal patronsacross the country and we are consistently being approached to enter new States andlocations. This is an excellent sign.
The Juffair Mall multiplex in Bahrain has seen a grand opening and is the firstinternational venture of Mukta and the first Indian cinema in the Gulf. The property ispoised to grow strongly in the years to come as it builds a loyal audience. The Companyhas got into another joint venture Asian Mukta A2 Cinemas LLP for expanding presence inAndhra mainly through single screen theatres. 3 Screens are already operational under thisLLP within a period of 3 months of its incorporation.
The Company also took the excellent decision to move Mukta A2 Cinemas into a separateentity this year. This will bring enhanced transparency in the reporting of the companyand will allow Mukta A2 Cinemas to grow at its own accelerated pace. The business has comeof age now and its destiny now needs to be decided in relation to its own businessenvironment.
Mukta A2 Cinemas now can begin to leverage the screen count in lucrative streams likeOn and Off screen advertising as well as the revenues accruing from online booking feeswhich has boomed since demonetisation.
On the production front the company is working hard to find the right scripts andprojects to return to the space. A lot of work has gone on building fresh IP from ourlibrary of content and we believe that we are in a position to leverage these across allplatforms including Film TV and Digital. I have myself spent substantial time on workingwith writers on scripts and I believe an announcement on our plans is imminent.
The programming business continues at its steady pace. Mukta VN is still the leadingplayer in a diminishing space but these relationships hold us in good stead for all sortsof ancillary opportunities.
Mr. Ashish Gharde has joined as Chief Operating Officer for Mukta Arts Limited inFebruary 2017. Ashish has eighteen years of experience in Operations and Human Resourcewith well-known companies like TATA Radio City and Balaji Telefilms. He brings a keyunderstanding of the TV content space with him and also execution experience. We areextremely pleased to have him on board.
The education activities of the group have been growing steadily for the past few yearsand this year the business has shown its first net profits after taxes. With a studentcount of over 800 ramping up to almost 1000 by July 2017 this business shows greatpromise. WWI launches its Design School in July 2017 in collaboration with ECV DesignSchool France.
WWI has seen a 20% revenue increase on the back of its TISS partnership to deliver highquality degree education. In addition to this the Institute has also launched its VirtualAcademy platform for online education as well as its Virtual Reality and Augmented Realitylab which will ensure that WWI stays on the cusp of technology and maintains its status ofbeing on the world's top film schools.
The legal situation is still on-going but we have had many good meetings with thepowers that be and I am sure that a resolution which is solid and binding is on the cardsshortly. We are working hard to ensure that the best possible outcome will come for WWIand its shareholders.
The implications of the move to Goods and Services Taxation (GST) from July 2017 arelikely to be mixed for the company and there is still plenty of ambiguity but overall themove is a positive one and I believe it will enhance the company overall. We have workedhard to ensure that our key processes are ready and compliant with GST.
This has been a challenging year overall but the Company has been moving steadily toits plan and now with the domestic cinema business under a distinct entity and theeducation business turning profitable the future looks promising. I thank all ourinvestors who have stood by us over all these years and are now beginning to see valuecreated in the company. There is more to come surely and we are all working hard toachieve that.