The picture service was also affected by the circulation decline, and the loss of 0.3 million euros compared to the previous year was higher than expected. The same was true in the persistently difficult segment of the secondary marketing of photos, where revenue stabilization had been expected, but despite our best efforts a decline in revenues of 0.2 million euros was recorded.
The growing number of picture suppliers, the sometimes dramatic fall in prices, as well as the cost pressure from the customer side placed a burden on earnings once again, something that can be described as a long-term trend. Together with its subsidiary dpa Picture-Alliance GmbH, the management has decided on a comprehensive package of measures to counteract this trend and sustainably strengthen this market segment.
However, revenues from new product areas happily saw a plus of over 0.5 million euros. The dpa-Videoservice as well as the Custom Content services saw significant growth. The special service for advertising papers, dpa-Avis, and the European special service dpa-Insight EU were stable. The foreign-language special foreign services were unable to meet revenue expectations and, on balance, fell short of the previous year's figures.
Revenues for technology and transmission fell slightly to 1.3 million euros, which was in line with expectations. Other operating income decreased from 1.3 million euros to 1.0 million euros, mainly due to the one-time effect of the carrying amount from news aktuell Schweiz AG in the previous year. The total operating income was 94.6 million euros (previous year: 95.3 million euros), a decline of 0.7 million euros.
The cost of materials fell by 5.0% (1.6 million euros) to 31.1 million euros, mainly due to the discontinuation of the procurement costs for epa’s international photo reporting. Despite increased expenses for purchasing writing and IT services, as well as new image purchase contracts to supplement the AP picture service, this made a significant contribution to the reduction of production costs.
The personnel costs in 2017 increased notably compared to the previous year – in 2016 there was no collectively agreed salary increase – and increased by 2.0 million euros to 52.8 million euros.
Of this amount, 0.8 million euros was attributable to cyclically higher allocations to the dpa provident fund, a total of approx. 0.3 million euros to pension provisions and contributions to the Pension Insurance Association, both of which were close to zero in the previous year, and about 0.8 euros million was due to the effects of the new, long-term collective agreements. These were several co-ordinated collective agreements that were finalized after extremely lengthy negotiations in the spring of 2017. The term for most components is just under three years (01.02.2016 to 31.12.2018). The extension of the pay grades and the abolition of the rule relating to dpa years of service, however, only take effect from 2019.