Nine expects no 'major structural changes' under new radio leadership

Josh McDonnell
By Josh McDonnell | 11 November 2019

Nine's newly appointed radio boss, Tom Malone, has emphasised that there will be no "major structural changes" within the business, as Macquarie Media becomes part of the media entity.

Last month, it was revealed Nine would acquire the remaining shares in the radio business, after taking a majority stake in the company following the Nine/Fairfax merger.

Malone, formerly Nine's head of sport, was appointed to the top job following ex-CEO Adam Lang's departure. The move signifies a return to radio for Malone, who began his career in the 2UE newsroom.

Speaking to AdNews, Malone says the business is already in a solid position to merge further into the overall Nine structure and that it would be unlikely that significant efficiencies would come into effect.

"When we acquired the Macquarie Media business, we were already fully aware of how strong of a content company it was, so it really won't need to undergo that many changes," Malone says.

"Our radio network is made up of broadcasters and programs that have been number one in their slot for 30 years. So, it's not necessarily about drastic change, it's about looking to see where we can make small improvements across the business and going from there."

A small change that will need to be addressed will be the future of the radio network's sports stations, Macquarie Sports Radio, which was put on pause earlier this year.

Malone says that will be a key element of the business that he will look into as he starts in the role today.

"Day one is [today], so I'll get in there and have a look and see where the opportunities for the audience are and what we can do at a responsible cost basis, and then work towards that," Malone says.

"Admittedly that will take a little while to work through and then we'll determine what is the best outcome for the sports radio network."

As for the likes of success stories, such as long-standing broadcaster and 2GB radio host Alan Jones, who kicked up a significant amount of public and advertiser backlash this year over his comments surrounding NZ prime minister Jacinda Ardern, Malone has no concerns.

Malone denied that there would be any need to "keep Jonesy in check" and that Nine would not be cracking down on how it managed the infamous 'shock jock'.

"He's been number one for 30 years and he's been number one for 30 years because he's actually very good at self-regulating himself. I know people brought up the comments. He has recognised that he erred and we've moved on," Malone says.

"I don't have anything more to say on that. He's a great broadcaster. When you say how are you going to manage him, I don't need to manage him in that regard. He manages himself and he's a phenomenal operator."

From a sales perspective, Malone says one of the "biggest opportunities" is now being able to offer clients another channel to advertise and engage with Nine's growing content portfolio.

He says there will be closer relationships now between the sales teams, as Nine looks to create another cross-sell strategy for advertisers and agencies.

"It's pretty straightforward. The radio sales team will work really closely with the television sales team and it's actually going to go both ways," Malone says.

"The direct radio sales team will actually be able to sell their TV now as well which is terrific, and also the television team - direct TV team - will be able to sell radio, and then by using and harnessing the power of the broader Nine group, we can then include radio in our discussions with the agency groups around how we commercialise those as well."

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