Columbia Music Entertainment Inc. said Wednesday it incurred a group net loss of 1.47 billion yen on a 68.6 percent plunge in sales to 13.24 billion yen in the fiscal first half through Sept. 30.

Columbia, which just adopted its new corporate name Oct. 1, said its sales plunge is part of the prolonged sluggishness of the Japanese music industry, which saw production decline for a fourth consecutive year.

The company said another reason for the weak sales was its failure to produce enough hit songs that cater to teenagers and people in their early 20s during the April-September period.

It did release some hit singles, including “Kiyoshi-no Zundoko-bushi” by Kiyoshi Hikawa, an “enka” Japanese ballad singer with a pop star image.

Columbia, formerly known as Nippon Columbia Co., has been restructuring its operations with the help of U.S. investment firm Ripplewood Holdings. The Tokyo-based company is pinning its restructuring plan on the production of hit songs.

The 1.47 billion yen interim net loss is sharply higher than the loss of 520 million yen in the fiscal first half of the previous year. However, Columbia said the expected size of its consolidated net loss for the entire fiscal year ending March 31, 2003, is much smaller than that of fiscal 2001, although sales will likely fall further.

The company expects to post group net and pretax losses of 1.3 billion yen and 300 million yen, respectively, on sales of 29.5 billion yen. In the previous year, it reported group net and pretax losses of 22.13 billion yen and 2.5 billion yen on sales of 57.58 billion yen.