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Saregama says jarring notes may continue

Our Bureau

KOLKATA, Sept. 26

SAREGAMA India Ltd faces another bleak year this fiscal with losses likely to be as high as in 2001-02.

While painting this grim picture before the minority shareholders at the annual general meeting, SIL Vice- Chairman, Mr Sanjiv Goenka, held out the hope that 2003-04 would look better with the several measures being put in place now.

Both shareholders and directors chose to skip the meeting with only three of the 11-member board being

present.

Mr Goenka, SIL Vice-Chairman, told an irate shareholder that the absent directors were possibly pre-occupied with other matters.

He told the equity holders that the major reason behind the poor performance was the failure to recover the cost of acquisition of music rights.

Through renegotiation, the company had been able to contain this outgo at a more realistic level even as it refashioned the entire music acquisition pattern.

Mr Goenka said that during 2001-02, the company's turnover decreased by 35 per cent to touch Rs 120.04 crore, the net loss standing at Rs 25.76 crore.

He said that piracy was hitting SIL's sales and an effort had been made to tackle it by stepping up anti-piracy measures on the one hand and reducing prices on the other.

He said that music companies could not fight piracy on their own and Government help was needed.

SIL, which recently announced its decision to re-enter film business, is in talks with a few producers and expects to land its first deal within the next two months or so.

Turning to international business (comprising Saregama Plc and RPG Global Mauritius), Mr Goenka told shareholders that Saregama Plc had brought four new States in the US under its distribution network while RPG Global had ventured into Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia. However, it had pulled out of Bangladesh because of the rampant piracy there.

All five ordinary resolutions were carried unanimously by shareholders.

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