The downturn in the economy and new consumer trends are hitting the media where it hurts – the bottom line.
Guardian Media Limited, (GML), one of the sector’s biggest players, is reporting lower profits “arising out of the national economic slowdown and the associated contraction of advertising spend across all sectors,” said Chair Teresa White.
GML has large operations in television, radio, newspaper and digital media.
One Caribbean Media (OCM) has steadied its ship after Chair Sir Fred Gollop had reported the previous year on the “continuing contraction in all our markets.”
Both GML and OCM carry consolidated balance sheets and, therefore, there are no details on the individual performances of the various media units.
The companies have made recent acquisitions and also have investments in other Caribbean territories.
GML reported that it has lowered its annual recurrent expenditure.
While the two major private sector media firms are coping with lower advertising revenues, several small operators are facing serious financial difficulties.
Some observers are forecasting more mergers and acquisitions in the sector, with small, vulnerable operators at risk of being taken over by large, more successful firms.
Apart from the decline in advertising revenues as a result of the downturn in the economy, new market trends are also affecting media firms.
Newspaper sales and television viewership are at an all-time low, while radio listenership is generally good only during morning and afternoon drive times.
Newspaper readers are continuing to migrate to digital sources for news and entertainment.
The local newspapers do not have high-performing, content-rich digital streams and, in addition, the cost of online advertising is much cheaper than that of newspapers.
White said that GML’s “key critical strategic focus” is the development of “our digital offerings, designed to make the most of the worldwide digital revolution and secure our position as the leading media player n the region.”
But several independent providers have already made significant headway in this relatively new market.
Television viewership has plummeted, partly due to the popularity of the now-pervasive cable service and movie providers, such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu.
In addition, with day-long news reportage on social media streams, the 7 p.m. television newscast no longer holds its previous viewer appeal.
The government-owned Caribbean New Media Group (CNMG), which operates in television and radio, is being bolstered by taxpayers’ money. The government had promised to revisit the bankrolling of a media house.
The decline in popularity of traditional media outlets is an international phenomenon as a result of changing consumer tastes.
The T&T media market is the largest in the Caribbean.
With lower advertising returns, a competitive market, high labor costs and statutory payments, the future of several current operators remains in doubt.