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He noted that although the company is not doing "as well as expected", it will continue to strive to hold its own in this rapidly developing technological world.
The assurances were contained in Rai's report which was read by GNNL Board Member, Mr. Hubert Rodney at the company's 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Main Street Plaza Hotel, Georgetown last Friday.
Rai, due to other commitments outside of Georgetown, could not attend the AGM which reviewed the performance of GNNL for the year ended December 31, 2001.
"I take this opportunity to thank the members of our Board of Directors, Management and Staff, our newspaper vendors/agents, advertising agencies, our readership and others for their contributions to the company in 2001 and solicit their support and guidance in the future," Rodney quoted Rai as saying.
The Chairman, in his report, admitted that the year 2001 proved to be one of significant decline over the previous year.
According to the General Manager of GNNL, Mr. Compton Peters, the company's performance plunged below projections after the relatively high standard achieved in 2000. The company made a loss of $4.87M before tax in 2001. This followed a profit of $66.8M achieved the previous year (2000) and indicates a decreased performance of 107.3 per cent, Peters told shareholders.
"Decreases in revenue earned from advertising and circulation (newspapers sales), coupled with increases in expenses were the major contributory factors to an adverse performance being recorded for the year 2001," Peters said.
According to him, advertising revenue fell from $244.7M in 2000 to $216.24M in 2001, a decrease of $28.46M. In this regard, he said less advertising column inches being sold during 2001 resulted in this adverse position. Circulation revenue fell from $202.43M in 2000 to $193.47M in 2001, representing a decrease of $8.96M. He said, too, that a drop in the demand for the Chronicle newspapers led to this adverse position.
The General Manager further pointed out that the company recorded an annual turnover of $422.98M in 2001 as against $455.44M in 2000, a decrease of $32.46M.
Following a decision to become involved in commercial printing, Peters said the company, during the year 2001, created a new department - the Commercial Department. He said this department was formed to handle the operations of a Heidelberg Quickmaster 46 two-colour offset press, which the company had purchased at a cost of US$99,950. A pressroom was built to accommodate the press.
Rai, in his report, stated that the Heidelberg’s operation is "fairly successful" but expressed the hope that there will be improvement in the future.
The Chairman also claimed that management/staff relations "continued to be excellent" and that there were no industrial disputes during the year. He noted, too, that the Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP) which was introduced during 1998 continues to be active.
He recognised that during the year the price of newsprint, the company's main production input, dropped significantly which helped to keep production costs down. He, however, noted that competition from both the print and the electronic media intensified.
It was noted, too, that during the year, the company purchased and installed 30 new computers and terminals mostly in its Editorial and Production departments and trained the staff (on the job) to operate them.
"We further digitalised the production line and, in the process, eliminated the Paste-Up Unit, thus reducing the staff in this department," Rodney quoted Rai as saying in his report.
"We still boast one of the best web sites in Guyana and the Caribbean," Rodney declared.
At last Friday's AGM, Mr. Rai was re-elected Chairman of the Board of Directors while Mr. Rodney, Mr. Tota Mangar, Ms. Fadia Gafoor, Ms. Sarah Torres were re-elected as Members. Mr. Frederick Halley was re-elected as Workers' Representative, and Mr. Peters, Administrative Manager, Mr. Dineshwar Singh and Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Sharief Khan were re-elected as Ex-Officio Members.