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‘Where is the line?’ SCA chief fires shots at competitors while slamming Sandilands claims

As the chief content officer for SCA, Dave Cameron oversees a whopping 4,000 hours of audio content each month – “an extraordinary amount of original content being done by great teams right across the country”, as he tells Mumbrella. But this week, the focus is on Melbourne breakfast – and Cameron knows he has the #1 show in market.

“We’re not in the business of removing number one shows,” Cameron laughs.

He is addressing Kyle Sandilands’ claim that he was offered a national FM breakfast show at SCA — presumably on the Hit Network, a stable of 41 stations that includes The Fox, ‘Melbourne’s #1 Hit Music Station’ if you listen to the slogan, and home of Melbourne’s #1 breakfast radio show if you look at the radio ratings.

Fifi, Fev & Nick pushed ahead of Christian O’Connell’s GOLDFM show in the first ratings books of 2024 to take the top spot. And to ensure they keep it, SCA has launched a massive campaign touting the show as Melbourne’s Biggest Party.

Part of this is showing the three hosts in various areas around Melbourne, something Sandilands claims ARN tried and failed to get him and co-host Jackie ‘O’ Henderson to do in their own Melbourne-based promo.

But Sandilands claims a lot of things. As Cameron explains, it was his representatives that shopped the idea of a national breakfast show to SCA, as well as to other players in the audio market.

“It’s not uncommon for any talent to do a bit of tyre kicking around contract time,” Cameron says. “It was very much a proposal that was delivered to several parties, including us. The terms were not ever delivered by us. That was delivered by, and orchestrated by, that team.

“And I can completely say with confidence that FM Breakfast was never a consideration for several of our major markets, including Melbourne. We have long-term agreements with our talent that were in existence, and remain in existence, many years into the future. So to suggest that it was replacing FM shows is just factually incorrect.”

(Interestingly, ARN chief Ciaran Davis told Mumbrella in February that a national Kyle and Jackie O breakfast show is “not part of the conversation”, with the focus “getting Melbourne and holding Sydney”).

As Cameron explained, he isn’t in the business of replacing number one shows. And with a competitor coming from Sydney, now’s the time to focus locally.

“Naturally, it’s completely focused on Melbourne,” Cameron says of the new ad campaign. “That’s a competitive advantage for us and one that we have really focused more and more on, particularly in the last eight months.

“And as we’ve done that, and as we’ve really engaged at a deeper kind of level into the suburbs, our results have reflected that sort of change in focus. They went number one [last survey] and we had a couple of number ones last year as well. And that is really a complete reflection of us having a far stronger, deeper engagement, even outside of the studio, with Fifi, Fev & Nick.

“And the results are on the score board.”

Cameron notes the show has a competitive advantage over what he refers to as “homogenised content”, paying tribute to Fifi Box’s continued success in Melbourne radio.

“I think Fifi’s at the top of her game,” Cameron says. “But I think the longer she’s been doing this, and the more experience she has in entertaining mass audiences, the more relatable she gets, year on year. She’s obviously got her own family now. She talks about the ups and downs of family life and kids. And it’s real. And she exposes what happens in her life, which is very relatable for the bulk of our listeners’ lives as well.”

Regardless of whether The Fox manages to hold the top spot as the competitive landscape heats up, Cameron knows the metrics by which SCA measures success.

“We understand that there’s several measures of success with things that we do,” he explains. “One of them is ratings and just as importantly is being able to be commercially successful and drive revenue. And what I would say is that, you know, all of our shows are highly successful in the commercial space.

“We understand the importance of delivering client campaigns and driving revenue in a really brand-safe environment. And certainly for Melbourne, we do believe that that is absolutely a focus for us and probably a concern for our competitors that, you know, operate in a pretty extreme content environment at the moment,” Cameron says, carefully naming no names. “And I think that’s been widely reported on.”

“I guess the question is, where is the line, in terms of what content is and isn’t allowed in the radio industry in Australia?,” he asks.

It would seem that Cameron is calling for tighter content regulations – which would, of course, impact the content of some breakfast shows more than others.

“It would seem that we have now the most extreme radio industry in the world. And I think that’s a challenge, as we are a self-regulated industry.

“I think that’s a challenge for our industry: to work out where the line is.”

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