CEO Roundtable part 2: Grant Blackley

Grant Blackley is set to take the reins of Southern Cross Austereo later this month as their new CEO and Managing Director.

In Part Two of our CEO Roundtable with Grant, we ask what he thinks SCA will look like in three years time: “Our challenge is to ensure that they are watching and listening to our assets more than they are today.”

We also ask what, in his view, is the biggest issue facing radio and what would happen to the company if cross media laws changed?

And about an area Grant is passionate about; media ‘disruption’.

Blair Sullivan: So what will SCA look like in three years’ time?

Grant Blackley: Actually someone asked me that the other day and my chairman jumped in said “it will be a $3 stock with a high growth profile”.  I am very happy to concur with him.

I would hope that SCA looks like an asset people want to be a part of, whether that it is to work there, whether you are a talent, or an executive or want to invest in as an external party.

If SCA has those attributes, and I am there to try and instil the confidence in the market, improve the operations, and most importantly get the best out of every component in the business that we possibly can, I would like to think that we are a growth stock with a great future.


Blair: As a newcomer what do you see as being the biggest challenge facing radio?

Grant Blackley: Radio hasn’t been my first experience point, so I will be leaning on the industry and the vast amount of talent in the industry. I do think radio has been a highly resilient asset in the market, and it has a very bright future.

It is a daily part of the consumer’s media appetite. We all spend a lot of time listening to radio, actively being involved in radio, actively being involved in television, and the combined assets I think actually work very well together.

I think there is a great cross pollination. If you have a look at the average day of an individual we talk to, at some point in time we are talking to the consumer through an asset that SCA owns. Our challenge is to ensure that they are watching and listening to our assets more than they are today.

So I think radio is resilient. I believe television through video is also resilient and I also think the combined effect, and the ability to lean on technology and embrace disruption will in actual fact serve the company well.


Blair: In disruption and the online space, that seems one of your passions. Backtracking to your time with Network Ten, that is an area that stood out in your time as CEO.

Grant Blackley: Most definitely. We have no choice but to embrace any challenge or disruption in the market and digital has been a great disruption tool across just about all businesses, and most importantly media. But it is another platform in the market as I see it and the unique aspect that SCA has is having great original content, and utilising the digital platform is paramount to the business.

I am not going to go exactly into what I believe will be those particular opportunities and aspects because they are highly competitive in the market. But what I do know is that anyone who is producing great talent on a consistent level and monetising it well, essentially can utilise any and all platforms, and those are known platforms to date and future platforms that either are appearing, or haven’t been developed or thought of at this point in time. 

So the key aspect here is content, talent and momentum.  And digital is a great opportunity for us to exploit that.


Blair:  If cross media laws change, what would it mean for SCA?

Grant: First and foremost it’s the commentary that my chairman put forward, and I don’t have an opinion at this point in time necessarily on cross media.  But our chairman has stated that he doesn’t see that cross media will be necessarily dealt with within the current term of the government at this point in time. 

Nevertheless, we are not here to run the company on the basis of future potential legislative change. 

We are here to ensure that each and every component of SCA’s asset base is performing to the best of its ability. The rest will take care of itself when and if legislative change presents itself.

And certainly a strategy is not to wait for that change, and then adapt a view thereafter.  One must have a healthy, competitive company with a well-structured balance sheet and effective, positive momentum.

If all of that occurs I think we will have opportunities that present themselves to SCA, and we’ll have opportunities that we may wish to exploit in our own right given the future strength of the company.  


Blair:  What keeps you motivated?

Grant:  What keeps me motivated are things that I am passionate about, and media is dear to my heart, and hence my willingness to return to the sector and to SCA, and it is the consistent change and challenge and the desire to adapt to that change and innovate.

I’d like to think that I can offer some experience and support, and momentum to that and I think what we have with SCA is the opportunity to improve all of the assets in a simultaneous capacity.  And I find that very exciting.  I find that a good challenge. But that being said, through my 24 years at TEN no year was ever the same.  And one should never rest on their laurels, one should never look back except to understand where you’ve been, what you’ve done and how that performed. 

So it’s about innovation, it’s about looking at what that innovation creates and the strategy behind it.  It’s about reviewing that strategy once it’s implemented to ensure it’s customised to the market, and actually performing to expectations. And the year after, you’ve got to review it again. I think that media more broadly offers that opportunity, so I’m highly attracted to that.


In part one of our CEO Roundtable with Grant, we spoke about how he balances people’s fear of change, while at the same time  inspiring them about the future. We spoke about what he looks for in the people he works with, and what issues he is going to tackle first with SCA. 

If you missed part one, you can read it here.


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