‘Zimpapers’ digital-first strategy to drive growth’ Mr Dekete

Nelson Gahadza

Senior Business Reporter

Zimbabwe’s largest integrated media house, Zimbabwe Newspapers, says it has made significant progress in implementing its digital-first strategy and leveraging on its 360-degree media solution.

On account of the various strategy interventions instituted by the company, the group is confident enough safeguards and measures have been put in place to guarantee growth and survival into the future.

Group chief executive officer Mr Pikirayi Deketeke said this was expected to enhance audience harvesting as the company, which has a presence across the mass media industry, has become fully aligned with world trends in its sector.

Commenting in the group’s 2023 annual report, Mr Deketeke also said the company had consolidated all its printing operations under one roof, which is expected to enhance efficiencies in the printing business and attract more clients.

“Plans are in place to further improve the company’s printing capacity by investing in new printing presses so that the company remains very competitive. 

“The initiative to broaden products under scholastic, paper merchandising, corporate gifts, and book shops is expected to further broaden the revenue base for the company,” he said.

He noted that the Zimbabwe Television Network (ZTN) channel that was launched in May 2022 on DSTV Channel 294 was consolidating its place in the growing television market and attracting good advertisers due to the new and exciting programmes being shown on the channel.

According to the latest Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (ZAMPS) survey, the television channel’s viewership has grown from 0,6 percent to 2 percent of satellite television viewership.

Mr Deketeke said the group’s radio stations had conquered their market segments, with Star FM emerging as the most popular urban radio station in the country, according to ZAMPS, and continuing to be the most preferred advertising medium, offering the best value for money.

“It is against this background that the future of the group looks brighter despite the current economic challenges, and management has put in place robust strategies that will safeguard the survival of the company into the future,” he said.

Mr Deketeke noted that the group will continue to focus on servicing the needs of the market through growing deeper relationships with its audiences, advertisers, and various stakeholders, which will entail re-imagining its journalism to meet the new media trends and operating a sustainable business model.

According to the annual report, group revenue for the year increased by 87 percent to $167,1 billion, compared to $89,6 billion recorded for the same period last year.

Mr Deketeke said the biggest growth in percentage terms came from the broadcasting division, which had 108 percent growth.

“However, in absolute terms, the newspapers had the biggest growth of $42,3 billion compared to $19,3 billion for the broadcasting division and $15,9 billion for the commercial printing division, which was 98 percent better when compared to the same period last year,” he said.

During the year under review, the Digital and Publishing Division (DAP), which operates leading daily and weekly publications that include The Herald, The Chronicle, The Sunday Mail, The Sunday News, and The Manica Post, recorded a decline in its revenue contribution, while the Commercial Printing Division (CPD) and the Radio Broadcasting Division (RBD) increased turnover over the past three years.

The DAP division declined from 62 percent to 59 percent, while the CPD grew from 18 percent to 19 percent, and the RBD grew from 17 percent to 19 percent when compared to the same period last year.

“This was in line with the group’s diversification strategy, as newspapers the world over are experiencing growth challenges. According to global research, new opportunities are in gaming, radio, and television, hence the deliberate strategy by the group to invest in television, which has steadily contributed 3 percent to group revenues over the last two years.

“There are growth opportunities in the television market in Zimbabwe to align with world trends, where television contributes about 34 percent of the total advertising revenues,” said Mr Deketeke.

The CEO indicated that advertising revenues continued to contribute the biggest share at 66 percent, although there was a slight decline from 68 percent recorded in the prior year.

He added that the second contribution came from the commercial printing line, which improved from 19 percent to 20 percent, while a significant recovery was recorded by circulation, which increased to 11 percent from the 8 percent recorded for the comparable period in the prior year.

During the year under review, the DAP division increased its revenue by 616 percent to $57 billion compared to $8 billion for the same period last year, with the growth driven by the recovery of circulation and increased advertising revenues.

The group’s broadcasting division is made up of four radio stations namely Star FM, a national radio station and three regional stations; Diamond FM, which is based in Manicaland Province, Capitalk, located in Harare, and Platinum FM, which is in Mashonaland West Province and ZTN television channel in the capital Harare.

The report shows that in historical terms, the division continued on a positive organic growth path as revenue grew by 740 percent when compared to the same period last year.

Mr Deketeke said profitability for the radio units has remained strong, with a net profit margin of 20 percent that was in line with last year.

“Focus is on growing ZTN to start positively contributing to the division’s bottom line in the near future,” he said.

According to the annual report, Star FM continued to be the biggest contributor to divisional revenues, improving by one (1) percentage point to 68 percent when compared to the same period last year.

“In line with the growth in listeners as confirmed by the ZAMPS report, Capitalk gained by two (2) percentage points to 5 percent, while Diamond and Platinum remained largely flat,” he said.

Mr Deketeke said during the year under review, the overall television market declined due to some market shocks, and this affected the overall performance of the ZTN channel.

Resultantly, ZTN’s contribution to total divisional revenues dropped to 14 percent from 17 percent recorded in the same period last year, and management is making concerted efforts to ensure the growth of the ZTN brand in the growing television market.

Mr Deketeke said revenue performance continued to move in the right direction, driven by volume and prudent pricing interventions to protect the margins of the business.

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