Last Thursday, Managing Director of SCA Grant Blackley Recount Media week on LiSTNER’s performance and its future exclusive content plans.
Today, Grant Blackley reviews the rest of the business operations, including radio ratings and the regional television partnership with Network 10.
Stable income, but debt is declining
Income has picked up from where we were 12 months ago. We managed to contain the decline to just 2.2%. We have had a very positive cost reduction. This was caused by a number of factors, including a restructuring of the cost base across the company. We got government support in the first half of the year through JobKeeper. We have also eliminated certain costs associated with television contracts which now reside in external broadcasting contracts.
We hadn’t reintroduced a dividend at that time and used 100% of that cash flow to accelerate debt reduction to an all-time low of $ 53 million. This puts our record in great shape.
New TV Affiliate Partner
The transition to 10 went smoothly. We were previously with 10 for about 40 years. We hibernated for five years at the Nine Network and we delivered a lot of things in a very healthy relationship with Nine during those five years. Neuf did not want to extend this contract. We are delighted with the revenues to date [with 10]. The agreement that we have structured with 10 allows us to forecast a neutral result in terms of earnings by the end of the year. The odds and income will be different, but basically the profits will remain stable.
Melbourne office relocation
Before Covid, we were considering potentially moving our Sydney or Melbourne offices, or maybe both. When Covid hit, we put that research on hold. What we have now chosen to do is extend our contract in Sydney and move to new premises in Melbourne.
The new Melbourne office remains in South Melbourne, but on Moray Street. It is good for the staff as long as they can come to the same destination. We have one floor plate for all staff which is currently spread over three floors.
The new studios will be versatile for everything from breakfast and in-car shows to podcast facilities. We aim to make them much more effective and efficient. We are looking forward to moving in the next 12 months.
Notes for new shows Hughesy, Mary and Baz
We made a number of changes in some major markets this year including Sydney and Melbourne. We have also launched a new Triple M station in Perth. They are also very thoughtful and measured investments. We can feed them as they improve. The stop-start nature of odds hasn’t helped the FM market. We have seen a slight migration to conversational formats. We think all new shows are in the right place with the right people.
Investors turn to television
Television contributes more and more to our income. There has been media speculation we have not commented on regarding an interest in our TV assets. Over time, we have received offers from sophisticated and unsophisticated investors.
There is no conversation at this stage for the sale of our TV assets.
Television is more than just a contribution to income. It complements a multiplatform approach in the regions. This allows us to create a more meaningful megaphone to promote our radio shows and digital audio assets like LiSTNR.
Have there been any offers for the radio business?
To my knowledge, there haven’t been any in my time. There has been no formal approach to the radio sector. People know that we are top performers and that we are the only national sales network and that our leadership in digital audio is second to none.
Another radio acquisition
[SCA has a radio division with 99 stations. Blackley said he has been trying to make it an even 100.]
I’m trying to buy one more. It turned out to be quite allusive. We’re a very disciplined bunch – we’ll only buy something if it’s right, otherwise the radio stations will stay at 99. We won’t buy one just for the press release.
See also: Podcast week: Grant Blackley on LiSTNR, Turia Pitt’s new pod, Two Blokes and more