Fairfax Chief Executive Greg Hywood Reiterates Commitment to Radio; No Merger With Macquarie Radio

By @ibtimesau on
A boy wearing earphones watches the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals soccer match between Germany and France at a public viewing in Dortmund July 4, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY - Tags: SOCIETY SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

A boy wearing earphones watches the 2014 World Cup quarter-finals soccer match between Germany and France at a public viewing in Dortmund July 4, 2014. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY - Tags: SOCIETY SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP)

Fairfax Media Chief Executive Greg Hywood reaffirmed the company's commitment to radio amid talks it is discussing a merger with Macquarie Radio Network. He said at a Melbourne Press Club event that the 180-year-old newspaper company is thriving, while adjusting to new commercial reality and creating new revenues.

Among the Fairfax stations are 3AW and 2UE. Haywood didn't provide more details about the talks with Macquarie Radio, but said, "We are getting it [radio] right. It won't happen overnight. We are here for the long road."

After Macquarie Radio withdrew its bid for the Fairfax Radio Network, which had an estimated value of $200 million when John Singleton of Macquarie offered to buy the business, some industry members believe the firm's radio business's value has been halved to $100 million.

He said Fairfax's strategy of digital first has been mistaken by its competitor, publishing company News Corp, as taking down print media. As technology changed the readers' preference, Fairfax's print division had to downsize, resulting in job cuts and cost reduction measures the past few years.

To survive the changing publishing business, Fairfax focused on Domain, its real estate classified business, which he said helped the company recover financially and now enjoys a 43 per cent increase in shareprices in 2014.

Like its print division, Fairfax Radio is also adapting to the changing times by tapping technology for its business. On July 4, the network rolled out its latest suite of iPhone apps for 2UE in Sydney, 3AW and Magic 1278 in Melbourne, 4BC and Magic 882 in Brisbane and 6PR in Perth.

The app, which works on tablets and smartphones, features live audio and in-studio video streaming from different camera angles, live streaming control including live pause, hourly on-demand local news audio, rich media news stories that have audio, video and high res image content, live studio interaction through email, phone, Twitter and Facebook, alarm clock, weather updates and station programme guide.

"This latest release marks a new era in radio mobile apps and content distribution, giving Apple users seamless access to Fairfax Radio Network studios and opportunities for interaction with live broadcasts around the country like never before," said Joe Sexton, technology director of Fairfax Radio Technology.

He explained, "We built the latest version of our apps to bring an integrated, interactive and comprehensive listening and viewing experience to our listeners. They are at the heart of everything we do, so it's imperative that they have the best radio experience at their finger tips, and that's what our latest apps deliver."

The apps are also available for Android devices.

If Fairfax uses iPhone and Android apps to widen its listernship base and adapt to their mobile lifestyle, BBC uses a Software-as-a-Service platform from Audioboom Group PLC (LSE: BOOM.L) that allows straightforward upload or download of content.

Audioboom has positioned itself as the global leader in spoken audio content, or the audio equivalent of the YouTube, the most popular video sharing site.

The UK-based publicly listed company is the provider of social media platform for audio producers to record either live or from the studio, upload and share audio by syndication and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

By tapping these social media sites, audience reach expands dramatically since the popular microblogging site and favourite social media site have millions or even billion of followers in different parts of the world.

At present, Audioboom has about 2,000 content channels from the initial 19 channels during the platform's launch in March 2013, said Rob Proctor, company CEO. Audioboom currently has 2.5 million registered users and 12 to13 million monthly active users across platforms.

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