dmg to change name: O’Connor

Staff Writer

dmg radio australia's CEO Cathy O'Connor and ARN's CEO Ciaran Davis have taken to the stage to discuss the current radio landscape with Mediaweek's James Manning.

They discussed their joint ventures, which are Nova Perth and 97.3 Brisbane, and on the new landscape with the launch of the Smooth brand into Sydney and Melbourne. Regarding the Smooth launch;

Ciaran "I hate her" (laugh)

Cathy "we chase listeners….that's radio"

Ciaran made the point that it was a challenge monetising listeners on the Classic Hits brand, and that it was good for business with more stations like (Smooth) in the market now.

Asked if dmg would change their name now that Illyria own 100% of the business, Cathy commented;

"yeah I think that will happen at some point….we gotta get to that….quite a big exercise. We'll take our time and do the process well and that won't be quick."

Ciaran was asked what Clear Channel bring to ARN;

"whether you agree or not agree with the syndication philosophy, we use a lot of their templates to drive KPI's in the background and we learn an awful lot from them"

With the announcement this week of iHeartRadio, and whether streaming services are competition for radio, both Ciaran and Cathy had strong views; 

Ciaran "you have to embrace it…it is early days in the investment of digital radio and streaming services (but) it's important that we don't just follow trends but make money, that's why we're here"

Cathy "There is no IP solution that can compete with what radio can deliver. We see it all as opportunity. It remains to be seen if the profits can compare to broadcast radio. It's a change to how entertainment and music is being consumed"

Cathy "Advertisers want more touch points and what radio could become. It's the evolution of brands. Do it well and build adjacent profit streams….and it will build…if it's well executed"

Ciaran "advertisers don't just want the concept they want to know if this specific campaign has worked and these other ventures allow them to collect that information for their clients."

Given the three major FM players in Australia are ARN, dmg, and SCA, Ciaran and Cathy were asked about SCA;

Ciaran "yes they are very big and very powerful but we see that as a motivator. But I believe it's good for the industry….yes they are extremely good at what they do and we are extremely competitive with them"

Cathy "ditto, and if I stand back it's better for investment in the radio sector"

Cathy went on to discuss the new direction that Nova has taken under fresh management; "(we could) be different or we could be #1 under 39. Different is fine, but it may not bring the commercial results you want."

So given Cathy's role as Chair of CRA, what was her view on the current ratings system;

"we need to move the energy of this debate away from why aren't you doing it. (in this) tender process, we're looking at the whole range of options, it could be a hybrid version or even new app technology."

On the 8% projected growth (PwC)….

Cath "it's going to be tough. There is lots of positivity around, but I think we're looking at low single digits"

Ciaran "just hope we don't go the way of some countries"  and alluded to one country he is aware of which is down 30%.

The session ended with Cathy making a comment on what she sees as a key challenge moving forward.;

"we don't want to get into an arms race over talent, we're going to lose here guys…..and do non-commercial things to our cost bases….consider this a health warning."


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