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Southern Cross boss joins demand for urgent media reform

Southern Cross Austereo CEO Grant Blackley has called on the Federal Government to act urgently on media reforms, saying it was “unacceptable” the issue had been allowed to lie idle for too long.

CEO Grant Blackley said the government needed to move urgently on media reform.

Speaking with Mumbrella after announcing a lift in revenue and profits, Blackley said the failure to act on the reforms after two Senate inquires was having a debilitating effect on the broadcasting industry, accusing communications minister Mitch Fifield of not doing his job.

Blackley is the latest broadcast CEO to make the call after Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner and Ten CEO Paul Anderson both demanded action last week.

Blackley told Mumbrella the lack of action was now doing serious damage to the industry.

“Something has to happen,” Blackley said.

“It is incumbent upon the government to start making the decision and crafting a path to legislation. Frankly it’s unacceptable that we are in a situation where some years down the track all of us have been talking about a level of inequity in the marketplace – particularly for regional broadcasters, but more broadly for media operators.

“We have to keep calling on the government for more action.

“To be fair, the minister is charged with our portfolio and this is up to him to listen to industry and appropriately act. He has certainly done the former, but at this point in time he hasn’t done the latter.”

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield has allowed media reform to be ignored Blackley said.

Blackley said the need to move on reform was vital for the regional broadcaster particularly in terms of the two out of three reach rule.

The CEO made his call after Southern Cross announced it had bucked a broadcast industry trend by announcing a rise in revenue and profits.

Blackely said the broadcaster was still enjoying the benefits of its new relationship with Nine and the decision to rebrand its regional stations under the Triple M and Hit brands, creating a truly national network buy for advertisers.

In relation to Nine he said: “We have seen very, very good progress in regards to the transition of both audiences and advertisers, but that was by no way complete in the first six months and we did have some headwind with special events, namely the Olympics in that period.

“Moving forward, whilst we mightn’t have absolute clarity on where the revenue is in terms of the booking time frame, we do have very clear vision in regards to the year ahead, our monetisation path, our transition of improved audiences with the advent of a better schedule from Nine.”

In radio he admitted the company did not have the forward vision it would like and that more work needed to be done in Sydney radio with Hit, but that across the rest of the radio business the situation was strong.

Blackley has also signalled there may be more acquisitions afoot later in the year as SCA seeks to diversify its revenue.

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