Blackley “We can’t let go of heritage, iconic brands”

Staff Writer

The new-ish boss of Southern Cross Austereo Grant Blackley was the subject of James Mannings ‘Behind the Desk’ at the CRA Conference this morning, and he had plenty to say.

Grant made it clear that 2DayFM and Fox FM are here to stay, they’re not going anywhere. He discussed his thoughts on SCA key talent, saying that obviously Rove is a major signing for SCA.

His first point of business was to fix the Sydney radio situation, 2Day had to be sorted. Grant worked with Rove for 10 years at channel 10 so there was that connection.

He’s learnt that talent dictate the format (of the show), and the instruction and governance from SCA management is to make SCA proud. SCA will put all the resources required to make the show the best, and signing Rove can only help shows like Hamish and Andy by having such big talent on Sydney breakfast.

Rove has been signed to a three year deal, with options after that timeframe runs out.

Grant was asked about the equity component in the contract. He said that signing talent to equity deals will definitely become a thing of the future.

“It’s a great way to ensure the talent work the hardest for the company, of which they now ultimately become a part owner of and their success will ultimately see their own share price up. The concept of getting equity in the company was one of the main reasons Hamish and Andy came back to radio.”

The brands of 2day FM and Fox FM are definitely staying, the brands are too strong to let go of. Heritage, iconic brands just cannot be lost he commented.

Great media companies need to invest. Invest in talent, and infrastructure, now is not the time to be cutting back. We need to spend money to grow, not reduce costs.

SCA’s new management structure has reduced its direct reporting from 19 mangers to 5 key experienced leaders. Grant doesn’t have 19 friends, let alone need for that many managers. 5 key people will need to own their departments and dissipate information and expectations accordingly down their own chain.

As Grant has conducted his tour of the country he said that in his view the original merger between Austereo and Macquarie Regional Radio was an acquisition not a merger. And that they now have four businesses:

1. Metropolitan Radio

2. Regional Radio

3. Regional Television

4. A Digital Business


Grant says he won’t make change to SCA for the sake of change, and noted on the logo “I’m not dropping the A…I’m not dropping the star”.

He has met 30-40% of the staff so far, and believes that they are all very clear on the direction, the strategy and the steps required to meet the goals.

“What makes media companies successful are calculated risks. Channel 10 and SCA for the last few years haven’t been doing that. Both companies are now starting to turn that around. Channel 10 have finally taken risks with great programming like The Big Bash and the Bachelorette. SCA are doing the same with talent like Rove.

Media outlets can’t rest on safe bets anymore. The last big calculated risk TEN took was with a show called Masterchef.

SCA runs the risk of becoming an infrastructure company , more so than a media company. This is due to the fact that we ken 93 stations, with 84 broadcast towers, all having offices, land that needs mowing, and towers that needs attention. The way we stay relevant is the crucial implementation of good, local regional content. Our aim is to spend money on regional radio and making it stronger.”

Being new to the job Grant has found a few hidden assets he feels he can use better. There is opportunity to sell off land that was once in the bush of certain cities which is now in suburbia. So selling off assets isn’t off the cards, and tidying up some of our big stations that are old rabbit warrens, and streamlining our operation.

SCA also own the most digital spectrum of all the media groups, which was purchased at public auction. He believes digital radio is definitely the future of radio and one he will tread very carefully around in the near future. 

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