SCA ‘insulated’ from worst of slowdown as broadcaster makes fresh plea for reform

Southern Cross Media’s regional focus has shielded the company from the worst of the advertising slowdown over the past two months, its chief executive has said.

While audio revenues fell away in September and October the company’s “broad portfolio” protected it against the wider impacts caused by the lockdowns in New South Wales and Victoria, Grant Blackley said.

SCA chief Grant Blackley

Addressing the broadcaster’s annual general meeting yesterday, Blackley forecast a stronger end to the year as COVID restrictions are eased.

“Advertising markets have continued to recover with audio revenues in the September quarter growing 15%,” he told shareholders. “This recovery has been slowed by the impact of the prolonged state lockdowns.

“[But] Southern Cross Austereo’s broad portfolio of assets covering 57 locations around Australia has partially insulated SCA from the adverse impacts of these lockdowns. SCA has also benefitted from its exposure to regional television which has been less affected by the lockdowns and has performed in line with our expectations following transition to our new affiliation with Network 10 from 1 July.”

He said the reopening of NSW and planned easing of movement in Victoria later this month has seen the market rally.

“We are seeing improving booking demand into November and December,” he said.

Blackley stressed the company has “remained vigilant and disciplined” in managing the affects of the weaker market.

Meanwhile, SCA chairman Rob Murray reiterated the need for regulatory reform in regional TV.

He said SCA and other regional broadcasters have made “significant submissions” to the Government’s Media Reform Green Paper and stressed the vital role played by free-to-air television.

“Current regulation of regional media is out of date, especially in the era of the Internet and video streaming,” Murray said. “Regional media operators are prevented from adjusting their business models to compete evenly with an expanding number of local and global operators.

“SCA encourages the government to bring regional media regulation into the twenty first century before it is too late.”

SCA reported earnings of $126 million in its 2021 financial year end, up 16.4% on the previous 12 months. Revenue fell 2.2% year-on-year to $529 million, showing significant bounce back after revenues slid 15.9% in its half-year results.


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