Grant Blackley: Too much revenue has flowed to metro TV, regional is undercooked

Rosie Baker
By Rosie Baker | 1 July 2016

Grant Blackley, CEO of Southern Cross Austereo, says that media agencies and national advertisers under-value regional advertising and audiences, meaning it doesn't get a fair share of revenue.

Regional audiences represent 35% of the population, with high media consumption that is no different to metro audiences and disposable incomes that are in some paces higher than metro areas, he says.

“Regional operators in general have a story that needs to be told; that we have a viable audience that represents 35% of Australia and therefore deserves consideration in media planning and buying. It’s the responsibility of every media whether it’s TV, newspapers or radio to tell that story.

“What holds it back is [media] buyer behaviour and we have to change buyer attitudes. That’s also incumbent on the operators to put a story forward that is clear and factual that [regional] deserves more. I have a not dissimilar view about radio. I believe TV gets its rightful share, newspapers get their rightful share albeit reducing, but I don’t think radio achieves its share, and I don’t think regional is fairly represented with national clients.”

SCA deals directly with 34,000 clients, and has plans to increase that to 40,000 over coming years but believes that national advertisers should spend more.

“Regional has had some headwinds over the last year but the amount of revenue apportioned to regional is undercooked. Too much money has migrated to metro TV. Regional clients know that the investment in regional media is effective and potent, but on a national level there is probably not an appreciation of the value of regional media so there’s a job to be done there," he says.

SCA makes around 80% of its revenue from radio business, and it's not surprising Blackley believes the medium deserves greater share of advertising pie. Radio, alongside outdoor media, is one of the only channels in growth. Metro revenue is increasing around 6% and regional around 5% he says, adding that radio media stocks have seen improvement and ratings are healthy but it’s still “under-rated” by media buyers and advertisers.

“What underpins radio is very strong, but it’s undercooked in terms of what it delivers. It’s well marketed by Commercial Radio Australia, but it deserves better and more. That’s incumbent on the industry to unite and do that, but I think you’ll see more cohesion in radio than you’ll see in most media over time,” he says.

Blackley's commetns come as the network switched on its affiliate deal with Nine to broadcast its content into regional Queensland, Southern NSW and Victoria today (1 July).

He also told AdNews he expects revenue to double under the new deal compared with what it was making under the previous deal with Ten.  

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