This year the company has continued to create itself as a leading entertainmentconglomerate with good strides in all the verticals of the business - productionexhibition and education. All businesses have had significant successes or are on theanvil of greater leaps and this has been reflected in the company's annual results whichshows profits again on a consolidated basis after a number of years in the red. I am proudof the growing teams of our company led now by seasoned professionals and propped up byenthusiastic young talent which has steadied this large ship and is now sailing it intomuch calmer and hopefully more prosperous waters.
As per the newest FICCI-FRAMES report the Indian M&E sector has grown by 12%mainly powered by growth in digital media and online gaming. More traditional areas likeTV and Film have seen growth of 9% and 10% respectively. Digital growth has been poweredagain by the mobile space but the uptake of OTT platforms as first watch' channelshas now become the norm in the metros and other cities. The film arena has seen a bit of adrop off from a stellar year in 2018 as International revenues from films declined due tothe stellar sales from China dropping off. Hindi films though had a good year with aconsistent number of hits emerging from sometimes unlikely sources throughout the year. Itwas not a year for the biggest of the big but a year for strong content and that has givenme a lot of thought ahead of our new slate of films.
Challenges remain though. Still there is a lack of a clear policy on the advancement ofnew cinema screens we are still awaiting a one-stop permissions window for the filmindustry and the tax regime though much less murky continues to change almost weekly.That all being said the industry continues to out-perform the Indian economy as a wholeand that is a significant feat as the world begins to look at India as one of the keydrivers of growth for the globe.
For Mukta in terms of Cinemas Mukta A2 Cinemas added 6 new screens in the year. Someof these are in key geographies. Sun City in Mumbai with over 600 seats opened along withKarimnagar and Shamshabad with 3 screens and 1 screen respectively. The company focusedon operating efficiencies this year and used this time to undertake significant upgradesto key properties like Bhopal and Gulbarga. In addition the JV with Asian Cinemas opened anew property in Konark with 813 seats.
Perhaps the best performance in the Mukta A2 repertoire was reserved for Bahrain in2018-19. The cinema has turned a corner in the Kingdom fulfilling a strong niche andshowing a net profit at the end of the year in complete contrast to the past few years.The 6 screen state of the art cineplex continues to grow strongly building a headyreputation in the country and a loyal customer base.
The next year will bring continued expansion in India. At the time of writing we willbe adding screens in Bhilai and Orion Mukta A2 in Mumbai before the AGM itself. Cautiousbut focused adding of screens to deliver the best value is what the company strives forand it will continue this strategy in 2019-20.
On the content side the company completed a historic deal with Zee Entertainmentreselling its entire library for a record price. The deal breaks all previous records andis once again validation that Mukta's library is the most sought after in Indianentertainment. The value of this deal will have repercussions for many years to come.
Mukta is also working on a new slate of films. Our next Marathi venture - Vijeta'was announced and there will be further announcements in Hindi in the coming months. Weare also closing deals in the TV space - Hindi as well as regional - and will be gearingup for this very soon. OTT and web is a growing space and the company is in higher leveldiscussions across the board to bring our very own stamp into this emerging arena.
Whistling Woods International continues to build its burgeoning reputation and thisyear has been a game- changer for the company and the institute. Over 1100 students wereon campus over 7 different schools. Our commitment to truly world-class education isbringing in great dividends in terms of student admissions as well as alumni recognition.This indeed gives me great pride.
This recognition was further given a huge international boost as WWI hosted the CILECTConference in Mumbai in November 2018. Over 200 Professors Deans and Head of Schoolsattended from around the world and the event was an overwhelming success. The conferencein Mumbai was hailed as the best ever and WWI showcased its academic achievement as wellas its technological strength as our faculty mixed with international peers to create morevalue for our students and the organisation as a whole.
WWI continues to see its alumni create great success across all domains ofentertainment and now with an alumni strength of over 2000 it wouldn't be outlandish tosay that every major media company in India has a WWI connection. We have also added toour technology partnerships Adobe and Apple have joined WWI's family to help bringcutting edge products for content creation to our students and faculty. WWI remains thenumber one choice for all partners in all areas of entertainment. This is to be lauded.
The legal case is coming to some form of resolution. The State Government has passed acabinet decision to help the Institute as it sees WWI as a matter of pride in Maharashtraand I am hopeful that now only due process remains to find an equitable solution in thismatter. This will be a huge burden off my team and I when it is done. It will also enhancethe value of WWI hugely. The thriving business will thrive in new and greater ways.
There is always light at the end of every tunnel and I am thankful and grateful to ourinvestors that they have kept faith in Mukta all these years. The company has now begun toshow profits again and this is something we are committed to continuing and buildingstrong value for all stakeholders. Every year is a new challenge and I am relishing thisnew one even more than ever.
Subhash Ghai Chairman
Mukta Arts Limited