Nova boss Cathy O’Connor confirms multiple redundancies

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NOVA Entertainment is the latest commercial radio broadcaster to reduce its headcount amid a weak advertising market, Radio Today can reveal.

A spokesperson for the Lachlan Murdoch-owned media business confirmed the pending redundancies, fuelled in part by the economic impact caused by the global health crisis.

Radio Today understands that about 70 employees will be affected following an internal review, with all staffers notified during a virtual Town Hall meeting on Tuesday (August 11).

Affected employees will be notified of their future with the broadcaster over the next five weeks.

NOVA Entertainment’s chief executive officer, Cathy O’Connor, issued a statement this afternoon, saying the business has suffered an estimated fall in revenue of over 25% this year.

“The media industry has been particularly hard hit and we expect the downturn to continue for the next 12 to 18 months,” O’Connor said in the statement.

“As a result, we have reviewed every aspect of our business to reduce costs and increase efficiency while continuing to deliver for our clients and audiences.

“We will reduce costs by 9% with all areas of the business being impacted. As a result, some staff will, unfortunately, be made redundant.”

O’Connor also said the network will redeploy some affected heads into other roles within the group and that all departing employees will be paid above their entitlements.

Assistance will also be provided to those affected, including training courses to reskill or upskill and assistance to find new external positions.

“These decisions will protect our core business and ensure that our company remains strong and successful and is positioned for growth as the economy recovers,” she said.

Commercial Radio Australia revealed a significant dent in radio ad sales last month.

Commercial radio’s peak body announced that revenue for metro stations was down 20.39% last financial year and totalled $643.046 million to June 30, down from $807.701 million the year prior.

NOVA Entertainment also made about 15 staffers redundant last November.

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11 Aug 2020 - 1:27 pm

So they advise staff today that some will be made redundant, but won’t tell them who for another 5 weeks.

Wow, it’s going to be a grueling 5 weeks at the network.

classic move
11 Aug 2020 - 1:30 pm

Lucky they made everyone take there annual leave, it will cost them much less now.

Bruce Baxter
11 Aug 2020 - 1:40 pm

What about some of the over paid announcers? Why continue to pay them more than a million dollars a year?

Just get a jock from the country who would do the job just as well for a lot less

Jason W
11 Aug 2020 - 1:44 pm

It’s a real shame. It’s obviously going to have a major impact on the product and the great things that Nova have put out to market prior to COVID. Radio and Nova in particular have had such a good run over the last 10 years and have put radio back into the limelight. Nova’s image was reinvigorated by such talented people. It’s a shame that era has ended and it will be back to bland old radio for Nova.

Rough year
11 Aug 2020 - 1:54 pm

I really do feel for Cath and the Nova team. Cath is a great leader, best in class in radio and would be taking every decision personally I’m sure.

All the best to the 70 people in the coming weeks, as a competitor of yours, know we all think you’re great operators and if we could hire you, we would in a heartbeat!

Mick C
11 Aug 2020 - 6:00 pm

Yeah well she’s keeping her job along with others at the top

James Styles
11 Aug 2020 - 6:17 pm

As Nova also owns FiveAA which is a talk station, they shall sell it to Nine when they have the Chance.

Joe Jackson
11 Aug 2020 - 8:01 pm

I heard they made everyone take a 10% pay cut to avoid redundancy’s 4 months ago. I’m guessing those people would be pretty angry now

12 Aug 2020 - 9:48 am

Lovely thought Bruce, but you still need big personalities to draw in an audience and be appealing to advertisers. Barry who does Sell Swap and Buy in Geraldton won’t have the impact needed on Nova drive.

A huge number or staff in the big networks are aleo genuine products of the system, came through regional and have earned their place.

13 Aug 2020 - 4:22 pm

All commercial FM radio stations have been slowly in decline even before Covid-19 hit our shores.
Declining revenues and wages will continue and I think FM radio has around a decade or less left in it now before it stalls due to 5G and online streaming systems. Who wants 5 minutes of ads every 15 minutes?
Will Mr Murdoch will try and offload his investments before too long?

Andy Grace
26 Aug 2020 - 10:12 am

Nothing can be done about this. Don’t blame Cath. She’s an outstanding executive.

Despite the fact we haven’t always seen ‘eye-to-eye’, she has an unenviable job here and has done outstandingly well to prevent everything from collapsing years ago.

COVID isn’t the core issue but it is a shocking burden on top of the systemic issue of commercial broadcasting itself. Just go back a few years through the comments I’ve made here. A recession has been imminent for years due to absurd debt levels, but we’ve just expanded debt further and lowered rates to ‘extend-and-pretend’. You can’t solve a debt problem with more debt – eventually it blows up in your face.

Media ubiquity is our core problem. There simply aren’t enough advertising dollars in the marketplace to sustain the current business model and associated cost base when there is now a near unlimited supply of ad inventory thanks to the Internet. That’s so even without a deep recession or depression in which media spend is the first line item to be cut. Post JobKeeper it will be an existential crisis for the kind of clients broadcast radio has relied upon.

That’s not to say radio brands can’t adapt their models and slash the legacy cost base, which is exactly what I’ve been saying for a decade – often to howls of naysayers who believe radio for some reason will thrive despite newspapers, TV and now PayTV bleeding profusely if not already on their death beds.

Nova and Smooth are both valuable brands and they have already been utilised by current management in innovative ways, but those efforts will need to massively increase away from the FM carrier – along with a decrease in fixed costs – if they’re to prosper in the long term.

28 Aug 2020 - 6:39 pm

Less than two months later? I understood Nova claimed things were on the up for Nova.


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