KUALA LUMPUR: Media Prima Bhd will not be screening matches of the upcoming 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil due to exorbitant costs, said group managing director Datuk Amrin Awaluddin. "We will not be carrying World Cup matches because the cost is exorbitant. But we're carrying some off-the-field news about the World Cup, teams, celebrations or events surrounding the matches," he told a press conference after the group's AGM here yesterday. Pay TV operator Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd which secured exclusive broadcasting rights for the Fifa World Cup, for an undisclosed sum, will telecast live all 64 matches of the event in Brazil through 10 channels. It is also partly banking on the World Cup to sustain its double-digit sales growth. Other broadcasters looking to air the matches therefore will have to pay a fee to Astro to do so. In 2012, former Information, Communications, Arts and Culture minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim urged media groups with a stranglehold on the broadcasting rights of major sporting events to share the content with free-to-air stations. Radio Televisyen Malaysia, the state-owned broadcast station, will be screening 35 of the 64 World Cup matches. Despite missing out on the World Cup matches, Media Prima is cautiously optimistic of growing advertising expenditure (adex) even though spending sentiments are expected to be affected by ongoing challenges in the global economy. "This year, we have several key events like the World Cup, Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and Visit Malaysia Year. Hopefully these will be catalysts for adex growth in Malaysia," Amrin said. He said generally, adex is the highest during festivities, especially in the middle of the year and during year-end, such as Hari Raya, Deepavali, Christmas and school holidays. Media Prima has equity interests in TV3, 8TV, ntv7 and TV9. It also owns over 98% stake in the New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd, which publishes the New Straits Times, Berita Harian and Harian Metro. Media Prima's highest revenue contribution comes from the TV segment (42.2%), followed by print (41.3%). All of its media platforms recorded growth in revenue last year, except for the print segment, which declined 2.7%. Print revenue is gauged by circulation and advertisement. Amrin said circulation among English dailies is a challenge around the world and there is stiff competition, not only on online newspapers but also on Facebook and Twitter. "However, our advertisement revenue is still growing, especially for the vernaculars (Malay). Our strategy is that we are capitalising on advertisements in the short to medium term while in the medium to long term, we're riding on online." With concerns on the challenging operating environment of media, he said Media Prima will revamp and expand its products beyond the traditional platforms. The group will also invest in content and adapt content across all platforms to current market trends, in line with what audiences want. "We're expanding not only through products and services but also content and how we present it," said Amrin. Advertising revenue from the digital segment saw the highest increase at 34.8% last year due to the take-up of online advertising. Under digital media, the group manages portals Tonton, Gua, Seroja and the online newspapers of New Straits Times, Harian Metro and Berita Harian. It expects Tonton to break even within the next three to five years, and to see monetisation through content and advertisements. "For us, to sustain the growth (of digital ad revenue) is not easy because of the challenging environment now and that more and more players are going into the online (space). We want to retain the current double-digit growth and we see online as the way forward for the future," said Amrin. The group announced a final singer tier dividend of 5 sen per share for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2013 at its AGM, bringing the dividends declared by the group in 2013 to 14 sen per share, or 74.9% of profit after tax and minority interests (patami). It also announced the adoption of a revised dividend policy to 60% to 80% from the current 25% to 75% of patami.