It is said that adaptability is about the powerful difference betweenchanging to cope and changing to win. The strong moral and philosophical fibre that ourlate Chairman Shri Ramesh Chandra Ji Agarwal weaved into your Company helped it to firmlywithstand the challenges through the pandemic. In keeping with the philosophy of turningadversity into an opportunity Dainik Bhaskar Group continues to remain at the forefrontof innovation in the Indian print sector.
The Fiscal 2021 has been an extremely unprecedented year on a globalscale and in this adversity we have seen truly challenging times both on the professionalfront as well as on the personal front. I would like to take this opportunity toappreciate the efforts and courage shown by the brave journalists who ensured continuousflow of news amid challenges of the pandemic. This reflects the core principle that wehave been following for the last many decades: Courageous Journalism is difficult and ifdone well is the most sustainable path for the future.
Our Founder's strategy of choosing the un-metro path has provenbeneficial for us as these markets are at the forefront of the economic recovery in thecountry. For the Print Industry it has also been a year of reaffirmation of the fact thatthe Indian reader is extremely discerning and values good editorial ethos.
The Newspaper Business
During fiscal year 2021 the print media landscape continued to undergostructural changes with the Indian language print exhibiting higher resilience incomparison to its English counterparts. Indian language newspapers were certified as themost credible medium in news dissemination which was further validated by various agenciesduring the year.
The Dainik Bhaskar Group continues to follow strong journalisticapproach while keeping the readers at the centre of all our efforts. During the pandemicthe Group rose to the occasion and delivered unbiased and courageous journalism bringingthe truth to the fore. Our eye-opening coverage of the pandemic has garnered us thereputation of being the most valuable and respected newspaper not just in India but alsoglobally. The reaffirmation of our faith in fearless and responsible journalism stems fromthe innate desire in every member of our team to bring about a positive change in thesociety. We continue to integrate reader-centric approach that puts the reader first byexploring numerous topics that contain knowledgable information useful to our readers. Oureditorial philosophy has always aided us in meeting our readers' expectations andestablishing a strong reader'connect.
It has been our consistent endeavour to remain at the forefront ofinnovation in print industry. During the year Dainik Bhaskar Group has crossed severalmilestones we published 24 Mega Editions' across our major markets despitethe challenging fiscal heralding the return of advertisers in Tier-II Tier-III citiesand beyond.
In an uncertain business environment the teams at Dainik Bhaskar havedisplayed tremendous resilience in ensuring continuity of business. Despite the initialchallenges we were able to continue publishing our newspapers without interruption forall the 64 editions across all states thanks to the efforts of the production editorialsales and other team members who worked tirelessly to ensure continuity of operations onboth the production and distribution sides.
To ensure that our circulation resume normalcy at the earliest wedevised a well-defined two-pronged strategy. Firstly we assuaged readers' fears thatthe newspaper might contain a virus and secondly we increased our focus on the revivaland strengthening of the distribution channel which had been disrupted due to the lockdownmeasures. The said efforts have enabled us in recovering the circulation faster; we wereable to reclaim more than 90% of our pre-COVID circulation numbers. In a few cities andtowns our teams' on-the-ground calibrations have enabled us attain nearly 95% ofpre-COVID levels. The recoveries have been significant in the key states of MadhyaPradesh Rajasthan and Gujarat. During the second wave of COVID-19 we witnessednegligible impact and our team's effort and strategy formulated during the first wavehas not only aided in safeguarding our circulation during these times but aided instrengthening our position in most of our markets.
Further we continue to work harder to stay relevant to our readers andreach new circulation milestones demonstrating the value of a well-targeted circulationplan.
The Radio Business
In the Radio Business D. B. Corp Ltd. continues to be the largestplayer in Rest of Maharashtra and maintains leadership position in Chandigarh HaryanaPunjab Rajasthan Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. MY FM has been strategicallypositioned to target the non-metro markets that are driving India's growth anddisplaying greater resilience than metro regions in the event of a global pandemic. Inthese uncertain times in keeping with the brand's philosophy of Aaj KuchAchcha Sunte Hain' (Let us listen to something cheerful today) MY FM has been aleader in its vision by offering positive light and engaging content that assistslisteners in living a healthy and happy life and in overcoming negativity.
The Digital Business Complementing & Supplementing our PrintStrategy
We are leveraging our expertise and experience in print media to bringcomprehensive high-quality content to our audience in the digital format. We continue toinvest in our digital business with a particular emphasis on growing the number of dailyactive users on our app and we have made tremendous progress in this area. Our strategyof providing the best-in-class ad-free user experience on our digital app whilemaintaining high-quality insightful and reader-engaged content resulted in a 7.5xincrease in monthly active users (MAU) over the previous 18 months (Source: ComScore).Additionally our Hindi and Gujarati news applications are among the highest-rated newsapps with over a million downloads owing to our commitment to high-quality contentcreation and a highly customised product experience. Our consistent dedication toproviding the best possible customer experience has been critical in sustaining andimproving user retention in our key areas and we aspire to emulate that success in othermarkets. We will continue to invest in technology to optimise products continuously inorder to support our long-term growth and monetisation goal. With increasing focus ondigital medium we are well-prepared to capitalise on it through our customer-centricstrategy.
We continue to invest in our digital business with a particularemphasis on growing the number of daily active users on our apps and we have madetremendous progress in this area. Our strategy of providing the best-in-class ad-freeuser experience on our digital apps while maintaining high-quality insightful andreader-engaged content resulted in a 7.5x increase in monthly active users over theprevious 18 months.
Our efforts towards bringing operational efficiency combined withsoftening newsprint prices resulted in a cost savings of around Rs1950 million infiscal 2021. This is much higher than the company's target to save Rs1250million.
Our Financial Performance Cost Rationalisation Measures
Throughout fiscal 2020-21 we remained committed towards costoptimisation efforts that we began in fiscal 2019. Our efforts towards bringingoperational efficiency combined with reduction in newsprint prices resulted in a costsavings of around Rs1950 million in fiscal 2021 for operational and personnel expensescombined which is much higher than the Company's initial aim of Rs 1250 million.Our laser-like focus on cost containment has aided in safeguarding the profitabilityduring these difficult times. We believe that our cost optimisation initiatives willresult in sustainable savings of 55%-60% going forward.
Strengthening our Balance Sheet
Our debt-free balance sheet ensured financial stability during thesetrying times. Despite the global pandemic we were able to maintain a debt-free balancesheet and generate free cash flows which is a resultant of various cost control measuresundertaken by the Company during the fiscal year which enabled the Company to runoperations smoothly.
For FY 2020-21 our Company reported a PAT of Rs1414 million with aPAT margin of 9%. EBIDTA for the year stood at Rs 3193 million resulting in an EBITDAmargin of 21%; we were able to sustain our operating margins on the back of stringent costcontrol measures coupled with softness in the newsprint prices.
Rewarding our Shareholders as a cash-generating company it has alwaysbeen our policy to return excess funds to shareholders. Despite the challenging times wecontinue to adhere to our policy. This year too we have already declared 30% dividendi.e. Rs 3 per share on face value of Rs10 per share which equates to a 37% pay-out ofour net profit.
The Way Forward
Despite the strong pandemic led headwinds the
Dainik Bhaskar Group's well calibrated Editorial Circulation andAd revenue strategies have helped the Company to outperform industry performance both interms of circulation and advertisement revenue. During these trying times we have furtherstrengthened our determination to ensure that we capitalise on every available opportunitywhile keeping our readers at the centre of all our efforts. We believe that with the massvaccination drive and proactive steps of the governments the economies are drivingtowards normalcy which will endure the performance of D. B. Corp Ltd. going forward.
Let me take this opportunity to thank our Board of DirectorsStakeholders for the encouragement and unstinted support and to our team for theiruntiring efforts to drive this Company to greater heights.